Skip to main content

Full text of "Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/ 





^^^'i ni oij'/n '^.1,'n: !:hj:^'1 u (noil tluijJoS 




Portrait from a Daguerreotype made in 1846. 











XE S^Y^o 


Copyright, 1900, 


The American edition of the Life and Letters of Thonias 
Henry Huxley calls for a few words by way of preface, for 
there existed a particular relationship between the English 
writer and his transatlantic readers. 

From the time that his Lay Sermons was published his 
essays found in the United States an eager audience, who 
appreciated above all things his directness and honesty of 
purpose and the unflinching spirit in which he pursued 
the truth. Whether or not, as some affirm, the American 
public " discovered " Mr. Herbert Spencer, they responded 
at once to the influence of the younger evolutionary writer, 
whose wide and exact knowledge of nature was but a 
stepping-stone to his interest in human life and its prob- 
lems. And when, a few years later, after more than one 
invitation, he came to lecture in the United States and made 
himself personally known to his many readers, it was this 
widespread response to his influence which made his wel- 
come comparable, as was said at the time, to a royal 

His own interest in the present problems of the country 
and the possibilities of its future was always keen, not 
merely as touching the development of a vast political 
force — one of the dominant factors of the near future — but 
far more as touching the character of its approaching great- 
ness. Huge territories and vast resources were of small 
interest to him in comparison with the use to which they 
should be put. None felt more vividly than he that the 
true greatness of a nation would depend upon the spirit 
of the principles it adopted, upon the character of the indi- 
viduals who make up the nation and shape the channels 
in which the currents of its being will hereafter flow. 


This was the note he struck in the appeal for intellectual 
sincerity and clearness which he made at the end of his 
New York Lectures on Evolution. The same note domi- 
nates that letter to his sister — a Southerner by adoption 
— which gives his reading of the real issue at stake in 
the great civil war. Slavery is bad for the slave, but far 
worse for the master, as sapping his character and making 
impossible that moral vigour of the individual on which is 
based the collective vigour of the nation. 

The interest with which he followed the later develop- 
ment of social problems need not be dwelt on here, except 
to say that he watched their earlier maturity in America 
as an indication of the problems which would afterwards 
call for a solution in his own country. His share in treat- 
ing them was limited to examining the principles of social 
philosophy on which some of the proposed remedies for 
social troubles were based, and this examination may be 
found in his Collected Essays. But the educational cam- 
paign which he carried on in England had its counterpart 
in America. It was not only that he was chosen to open 
the Johns Hopkins University as the type of a new form 
of education ; there and elsewhere pupils of his carried out 
in America his methods of teaching biology, while others 
engaged in general education would write testifying to the 
influence of his ideas upon their own methods of teaching. 
But it must be remembered that nothing was further from 
his mind than the desire to found a school of thought. He 
only endeavoured as a scholar and a student to clear up 
his own thoughts and help others to clear theirs, whether 
in the intellectual or the moral world. This was the 
help he steadfastly hoped to give the people, that interact- 
ing union of intellectual freedom and moral discernment 
which may be furthered by good education and training, 
by precept and example, that basis of all social health and 
prosperity. And if, as he said, he would like to be remem- 
bered as one who had done his best to help the people, 
he meant assuredly not the people only of his native land, 
but the wider world to whom his words could be carried. 


My father's life was one of so many interests, and his 
work was at all times so diversified, that to follow each 
thread separately, as if he had been engaged on that alone 
for a time, would be to give a false impression of his activity 
and the peculiar character of his labours. All through his 
active career he was equally busy with research into nature, 
with studies in philosophy, with teaching and administra- 
tive work. The real measure of his energy can only be 
found when all these are considered together. Without 
this there can be no conception of the limitations imposed 
upon him in his chosen life's work. The mere amount of 
his research is greatly magnified by the smallness of the 
time allowed for it. 

But great as was the impression left by these researches 
in purely scientific circles, it is not by them alone that he 
made his impression upon the mass of his contemporaries. 
They were chiefly moved by something over and above 
his wide knowledge in so many fields — by his passionate 
sincerity, his interest not only in pure knowledge, but in 
human life, by his belief that the interpretation of the book 
of nature was not to be kept apart from the ultimate prob- 
lems of existence; by the love of truth, in short, both 
theoretical and practical, which gave the key to the char- 
acter of the man himself. 

Accordingly, I have not discussed with any fulness the 
value of his technical contributions to natural science; I 
have not drawn up a compendium of his philosophical 
views. One is a work for specialists; the other can be 
gathered from his published works. I have endeavoured 
rather to give the public a picture, so far as I can, of the 
man himself, of his aims in the many struggles in which 
i» vii 


he was engaged, of his character and temperament, and 
the circumstances under which his various works were be- 
gun and completed. 

So far as possible, I have made his letters, or extracts 
from them, tell the story of his life. If those of any given 
period are diverse in tone and character, it is simply because 
they reflect an equal diversity of occupations and interests. 
Few of the letters, however, are of any great length ; many 
are little more than hurried notes ; others, mainly of private 
interest, supply a sentence here and there to fill in the 
general outline. 

Moreover, whenever circumstances permit, I have en- 
deavoured to make my own part in the book entirely im- 
personal. My experience is that the constant iteration by 
the biographer of his relationship to the subject of his 
memoir, can become exasperating to the reader; so that 
at the risk of offending in the opposite direction, I have 
chosen the other course. 

Lastly, I have to express my grateful thanks to all who 
have sent me letters or supplied information, and espe- 
cially to Dr. J. H. Gladstone, Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff, 
Professor Howes, Professor Henry Sidgwick, and Sir 
Spencer Walpole, for their contributions to the book; but 
above all to Sir Joseph Hooker and Sir Michael Foster, 
whose invaluable help in reading proofs and making sug- 
gestions has been, as it were, a final labour of love for the 
memory of their old friend. 


























825-1842) I 

841-1846) 16 

846-1849) 31 

848-1850) 44 

850-1851) 60 

851-1854) 17 

851-1853) 5^ 

854) "7 

855) 138 

855-1858) 142 

857-1858) . .154 

859-1860) 164 

859) 178 

859-1860) 188 

860-1863) 205 

860-1861) 225 

861-1863) 247 

864) 269 

865) 283 

866) 294 

867) 306 

8) 316 

869) 330 

870) 346 




XXV. (1871) 383 

XXVL (1872) 394 

XXVH. (1873) 418 

XXVIIL (1874) 436 

XXIX. (1875-1876) 459 

XXX. (1875-1876) 475 

XXXI. (1876) 489 

XXXII. (1877) 507 

XXXIII. (1878) 520 



Portrait from a Daguerrotype made in 1846 Frontispiece 
Facsimile of Sketch, *' The Loves and Graces " . . .85 
Portrait from a Photograph by Maull and Polyblank, 1857 . 160 
No. 4 Marlborough Place — from the Garden. After a Water- 
colour Sketch by R. Huxley 412 

Portrait from a Photograph by Elliott and Fry; Steel Engrav- 
ing in Nature^ February 5, 1874 436 


In the year 1825 Ealing was as quiet a country village as 
could be found within a dozen miles of Hyde Park Comer. 
Here stood a large semi-public school, which had risen to 
the front rank in numbers and reputation under Dr. Nich- 
olas, of Wadham College, Oxford, who in 1791 became the 
son-in-law and successor of the previous master. 

The senior assistant-master in this school was George 
Huxley, a tall, dark, rather full-faced man, quick tempered, 
and distinguished, in his son's words, by "that glorious 
firmness which one's enemies called obstinacy." In the year 
1810 he had married Rachel Withers; she bore five sons 
and three daughters, of whom one son and one daughter 
died in infancy; the seventh and youngest surviving child 
was Thomas Henry. 

George Huxley, the master at Ealing, was the second 
son of Thomas Huxley and Margaret James, who were mar- 
ried at St. Michael's, Coventry, on September 8, 1773. 
This Thomas Huxley continued to live at Coventry until 
his death in January 1796, when he left behind him a large 
family and no very great wealth. The most notable item 
in the latter is the " capital Messuage, by me lately pur- 
chased of Mrs. Ann Thomas," which he directs to be sold 
to pay his debts — ^an inn, apparently, for the testator is 
described as a victualler. Family tradition tells that he came 
to Coventry from Lichfield, and if so, he and his sons after 
him exemplify the tendency to move south, which is to be 
observed in those of the same name who migrated from 


their original home in Cheshire. This home is represented 
to-day by a farm in the Wirral, about eight miles from 
Chester, called Huxley Hall. From this centre Huxleys. 
spread to the neighbouring villages, such as Overton and 
Eccleston, Clotton and Duddon, Tattenhall and Wettenhall ; 
others to Chester and Brindley near Nantwich. The south- 
ward movement carries some to the Welsh border, others 
into Shropshire. The Wettenhall family established them- 
selves in the fourth generation at Rushall, and held property 
in Handsworth and Walsall; the Brindley family sent a 
branch to Macclesfield, whose representative, Samuel, must 
have been on the town council when the Young Pretender 
rode through on his way to Derby, for he was mayor in 
1746; while at the end of the sixteenth century, George, 
the disinherited heir of Brindley, became a merchant in 
London, and purchased Wyre Hall at Edmonton, where his 
descendants lived for four generations, his grandson being 
knighted by Charles H in 1663. 

But my father had no particular interest in tracing his 
early ancestry. " My own genealogical inquiries," he said, 
" have taken me so far back that I confess the later stages 
do not interest me." Towards the end of his life, however, 
my mother persuaded him to see what could be found out 
about Huxley Hall and the origin of the name. This proved 
to be from the manor of Huxley or Hodesleia, whereof one 
Swanus de Hockenhull was enfeoffed by the abbot and 
convent of St. Werburgh in the time of Richard I. Of the 
grandsons of this Swanus, the eldest kept the manor and 
name of Hockenhull (which is still extant in the Midlands) ; 
the younger ones took their name from the other fief. 

But the historian of Cheshire records the fact that owing 
to the respectability of the name, it was unlawfully assumed 
by divers " losels and lewd fellows of the baser sort," and 
my father, with a fine show of earnestness, used to declare 
that he was certain the legitimate owners of the name were 
far too sober and respectable to have produced such a 
reprobate as himself, and one of these " losels " must be his 

Thomas Henry Huxley was born at Ealing on May 4, 

i825 EARLY LIFE 3 

1825, " about eight o'clock in the morning." * " I am not 
aware," he tells us playfully in his Autobiography, " that 
any portents preceded my arrival in this world, but, in my 
childhood, I remember hearing a traditional account of the 
manner in which I lost the chance of an endowment of 
great practical value. The windows of my mother's room 
were open, in consequence of the unusual warmth of the 
weather. For the same reason, probably, a neighbouring 
beehive had swarmed, and the new colony, pitching on the 
window-sill, was making its way into the room when the 
horrified nurse shut down the sash. If that well-meaning 
woman had only abstained from her ill-timed interference, 
the swarm might have settled on my lips, and I should have 
been endowed with that mellifluous eloquence which,- in this 
country, leads far more surely than worth, capacity, or 
honest work, to the highest places in Church and State. 
But the opportunity was lost, and I have been obliged to 
content myself through life with saying what I mean in the 
plainest of plain language, than which, I suppose, there is no 
habit more ruinous to a man's prospects of advancement." 
As to his debt, physical and mental, to either parent, he 
writes as follows : — 

Physically I am the son of my mother so completely — even 
down to peculiar movements of the hands, which made their 
appearance in me as I reached the age she had when I noticed 
them — ^that I can hardly find any trace of my father in myself, 
except an inborn faculty for drawing, which, unfortunately, in 
my case, has never been cultivated, a hot temper, and that 
amount of tenacity of purpose which unfriendly observers some- 
times call obstinacy. 

My mother was a slender brunette, of an emotional and ener- 
getic temperament, and possessed of the most piercing black 
eyes I ever saw in a woman's head. With no more education 
than other women of the middle classes in her day, she had an 
excellent mental capacity. Her most distinguishing character- 
istic, however, was rapidity of thought. If one ventured to sug- 
gest that she had not taken much time to arrive at any conclu- 
sion, she would say, " I cannot help it ; things flash across me." 

• So in the Autobiography, but 9.30 according to the Family Bible. 


That peculiarity has been passed on to me in full strength; it 
has often stood me in good stead; it has sometimes played me 
sad tricks, and it has always been a danger. But, after all, if 
my time were to come over again, there is nothing I would less 
willingly part with than my inheritance of mother-wit. 

Restless, talkative, untiring to the day of her death, she 
was at sixty-six " as active and energetic as a young wom- 
an." His early devotion to her was remarkable. Describ- 
ing her to his future wife he writes : — 

As a child my love for her was a passion. I have lain awake 
for hours crying because I had a morbid fear of her death ; her 
approbation was my greatest reward, her displeasure my great- 
est punishment. 

I have next to nothing to say about my childhood (he con- 
tinues in the Autobiography). In later years my mother, look- 
ing at me almost reproachfully, would sometimes say, " Ah ! you 
were such a pretty boy I " whence I had no difficulty in conclud- 
ing that I had not fulfilled my early promise in the matter of 
looks. In fact, I have a distinct recollection of certain curls of 
which I was vain, and of a conviction that I closely resembled 
that handsome, courtly gentleman, Sir Herbert Oakley, who was 
vicar of our parish, and who was as a god to us country folk, 
because he was occasionally visited by the then Prince George 
of Cambridge. I remember turning my pinafore wrong side 
forwards in order to represent a surplice, and preaching to my 
mother's maids in the kitchen as nearly as possible in Sir Her- 
bert's manner one Sunday morning when the rest of the family 
were at church. That is the earliest indication of the strong 
clerical affinities which my friend Mr. Herbert Spencer has 
always ascribed to me, though I fancy they have for the most 
part remained in a latent state. 

There remains no record of his having been a very pre- 
cocious child. Indeed, it is usually the eldest child whose 
necessary companionship with his elders wins him this 
reputation. The youngest remains a child among children 
longer than any other of his brothers and sisters. 

One talent, however, displayed itself early. The faculty 
of drawing he inherited from his father. But on the queer 
principle that training is either unnecessary to natural ca- 
pacity or even ruins it, he never received regular instruction 


in drawing; and his draughtsmanship, vigorous as it was, 
and a genuine medium of artistic expression as well as an 
admirable instrument in his own especial work, never 
reached the technical perfection of which it was naturally 

The amount of instruction, indeed of any kind, which 
he received was scanty in the extreme. For a couple of 
years, from the age of eight to ten, he was given a taste of 
the unreformed public school life, where, apart from the 
rough and ready mode of instruction in vogue and the 
necessary obedience enforced to certain rules, no means 
were taken to reach the boys themselves, to guide them and 
help them in their school life. The new-comer was left to 
struggle for himself in a community composed of human 
beings at their most heartlessly cruel age, untempered by 
any external influence. 

Here he had little enough of mental discipline, or that 
deliberate training of character which is a leading object of 
modern education. On the contrary, what he learnt was a 
knowledge of undisciplined human nature. 

My regular school training (he tells us), was of the briefest, 
perhaps fortunately; for though my way of life has made me 
acquainted with all sorts and conditions of men, from the high- 
est to the lowest, I deliberately affirm that the society I fell into 
at school was the worst I have ever known. We boys were 
average lads, with much the same inherent capacity for good and 
evil as any others; but the people who were set over us cared 
about as much for our intellectual and moral welfare as if they 
were baby-farmers. We were left to the operation of the strug- 
gle for existence among ourselves ; bullying was the least of the 
ill practices current among us. Almost the only cheerful remi- 
niscence in connection with the place which arises in my mind 
is that of a battle I had with one of my classmates, who had 
bullied me until I could stand it no longer. I was a very slight 
lad, but there was a wild-cat element in me which, when roused, 
made up for lack of weight, and I licked my adversary effectu- 
ally. However, one of my first experiences of the extremely 
rough-and-ready nature of justice, as exhibited by the course of 
things in general, arose out of the fact that I — the victor — had 
a black eye, while he — the vanquished — ^had none, so that I got 


into disgrace and he did not. We made it up, and thereafter I 
was unmolested. One of the greatest shocks I ever received in 
my life was to be told a dozen years afterwards by the groom 
who brought me my horse in a stable-yard in Sydney that he 
was my quondam antagonist. He had a long story of family 
misfortune to account for his position; but at that time it was 
necessary to deal very cautiously with mysterious strangers in 
New South Wales, and on inquiry I found that the unfortunate 
young man had not only been " sent out," but had undergone 
more than one colonial conviction. 

His brief school career was happily cut short by the 
break up of the Ealing establishment. On the death of 
Dr. Nicholas, his sons attempted to carry on the school ; but 
the numbers declined rapidly, and George Huxley, about 
1835, returned to his native town of Coventry, where he 
obtained the modest post of manager of the Coventry sav- 
ings bank, while his daughters eked out the slender family 
resources by keeping school. 

In the meantime the boy Tom, as he was usually called, 
got little or no regular instruction. But he had an inquiring 
mind, and a singularly early turn for metaphysical specula- 
tion. He read everything he could lay hands on in his 
father's library. Not satisfied with the ordinary length of 
the day, he used, when a boy of twelve, to light his candle 
before dawn, pin a blanket round his shoulders, and sit up 
in bed to read Hutton's Geology. He discussed all manner 
of questions with his parents and friends, for his quick and 
eager mind made it possible for him to have friendships 
with people considerably older than himself. Among these 
may especially be noted his medical brother-in-law, Dr. 
Cooke of Coventry, who had married his sister Ellen in 
1839, and through whom he early became interested in hu- 
man anatomy ; and George Anderson May, at that time in 
business at Hinckley (a small weaving centre some dozen 
miles distant from Coventry), whom his friends who knew 
him afterwards in the home which he made for himself on 
the farm at Elford, near Tamworth, will remember for his 
genial spirit and native love of letters. There was a real 
friendship between the two. The boy of fifteen notes down 


with pleasure his visits to the man of six-and-twenty, with 
whom he could talk freely of the books he read, and the 
ideas he gathered about philosophy. 

Afterwards, however, their ways lay far apart, and I 
believe they did not meet again until the seventies, when 
Mr. May sent his children to be educated in London, and 
his youngest son was at school with me; his younger 
daughter studied art at the Slade School with my sisters, 
and both found a warm welcome in the home circle at 
Marlborough Place. 

One of his boyish speculations was as to what would 
become of things if their qualities were taken away; and 
lighting upon Sir William Hamilton's LogiCf he devoured it 
to such good effect that when, years afterwards, he came to 
tackle the greater philosophers, especially the English and 
the German, he found he had already a clear notion of where 
the key of metaphysic lay. 

This early interest in metaphysics was another form of 
the intense curiosity to discover the motive principle of 
things, the why and how they act, that appeared in the 
boy's love of engineering and of anatomy. The unity of 
this motive and the accident which bade fair to ruin his life 
at the outset, and actually levied a lifelong tax upon his 
bodily vigour, are best told in his own words : — 

As I grew older, my great desire was to be a mechanical 
engineer, but the fates were against this, and while very young I 
commenced the study of medicine under a medical brodier-in- 
law. But, though the Institute of Mechanical Engineers would 
certainly not own me, I am not sure that I have not all along 
been a sort of mechanical engineer in partibus inMelium. I am 
now occasionally horrified to think how little I ever knew or 
cared about medicine as the art of healing. The only part of 
my professional course which really and deeply interested me 
was physiology, which is the mechanical engineering of living 
machines; and, notwithstanding that natural science has been 
my proper business, I am afraid there is very little of the genu- 
ine naturalist in me. I never collected anything, and species 
work was always a burden to me; what I cared for was the 
architectural and engineering part of the business, the working 
out the wonderful unity of plan in the thousands and thousands 


of diverse living constructions, and the modifications of similar 
apparatuses to serve diverse ends. The extraordinary attrac- 
tion I felt towards the study of the intricacies of living struc- 
ture nearly proved fatal to me at the outset, I was a mere boy 
— I think between thirteen and fourteen years of age — when I 
was taken by some older student friends of mine to the first 
post-mortem examination I ever attended. All my life I have 
been most unfortunately sensitive to the disagreeables which 
attend anatomical pursuits, but on this occasion my curiosity 
overpowered all other feelings, and I spent two or three hours 
in gratifying it. I did not cut myself, and none of the ordinary 
symptoms of dissection-poison supervened, but poisoned I was 
somehow, and I remember sinking into a strange state of apathy. 
By way of a last chance, I was sent to the care of some good, 
kind people, friends of my father's, who lived in a farmhouse 
in the heart of Warwickshire. I remember staggering from my 
bed to the window on the bright spring morning after my 
arrival, and throwing open the casement. Life seemed to come 
back on the wings of the breeze, and to this day the faint odour 
of wood-smoke, like that which floated across the farmyard in 
the early morning, is as good to me as the " sweet south upon a 
bed of violets." I soon recovered, but for years I suffered from 
occasional paroxysms of internal pain, and from that time my 
constant friend, hypochondriacal dyspepsia, commenced his half- 
century of co-tenancy of my fleshly tabernacle. 

Some little time after his return from the voyage of the 
Rattlesnake, Huxley succeeded in tracing his good Warwick- 
shire friends again. A letter of May ii, 1852, from one 
of them, Miss K. Jaggard, tells how they had lost sight of 
the Huxleys after their departure from Coventry ; how they 
were themselves dispersed by death, marriage, or retire- 
ment ; and then proceeds to draw a lively sketch of the long 
delicate-looking lad, which clearly refers to this period or 
a little later. 

My brother and sister who were living at Grove Fields when 
you visited there, have now retired from the cares of business, 
and are living very comfortably at Leamington. ... I suppose 
you remember Mr. Joseph Russell, who used to live at Avon 
Dassett. He is now married and gone to live at Grove Fields, 
so that it is still occupied by a person of the same name as when 
you knew it. But it is very much altered in appearance since 


the time when such merry and joyous parties of aunts and 
cousins used to assemble there. I assure you we have often 
talked of "Tom Huxley" (who was sometimes one of the 
party) looking so thin and ill, and pretending to make hay with 
one hand, while in the other he held a German book ! Do you 
remember it? And the picnic at Scar Bank ? And how often too 
your patience was put to the test in looking for your German 
books which had been hidden by some of those playful compan- 
ions who were rather less inclined for learning than yourself? 

It is interesting to see from this letter and from a journal, 
to be quoted hereafter, that he had thus early begun to 
teach himself German, an undertaking more momentous in 
its consequences than the boy dreamed of. The knowledge 
of German thus early acquired was soon of the utmost serv- 
ice in making him acquainted with the advance of biological 
investigation on the continent at a time when few indeed 
among English men of science were able to follow it at first 
hand, and turn the light of the newest theories upon their 
own researches. 

It is therefore peculiarly interesting to note the cause 
which determined the young Huxley to take up the study of 
so little read a language. I have more than once heard him 
say that this was one half of the debt he owed to Carlyle, 
the other half being an intense hatred of shams of every sort 
and kind. The translations from the German, the constant 
references to German literature and philosophy, fired him to 
try the vast original from which these specimens were quar- 
ried, for the sake partly of the literature, but still more of 
the philosophy. The translation of Wilhelm Meister, and 
some of the Miscellaneous Essays together, with The French 
Revolution, were certainly among works of Carlyle with 
which he first made acquaintance, to be followed later by 
Sartor Resartus, which for many years afterwards was his 
Enchiridion, as he puts it in an unpublished autobiographi- 
cal fragment. 

By great good fortune, a singularly interesting glimpse 
of my father's life from the age of fifteen onwards has been 
preserved in the shape of a fragmentary journal which he 
entitled, German fashion, Thoughts and Doings. Begun 


on September 29, 1840, it is continued for a couple of years, 
and concludes with some vigorous annotations in 1845, 
when the little booklet emerged from a three years' oblivion 
at the bottom of an old desk. Early as this journal is, in it 
the boy displays three habits afterwards characteristic of 
the man: the habit of noting down any striking thought 
or saying he came across in the course of his reading; of 
speculating on the causes of things and discussing the right 
and wrong of existing institutions ; and of making scientific 
experiments, using them to correct his theories. 

The first entry, the heading, as it were, and keynote of 
all the rest, is a quotation from Novalis : — " Philosophy can 
bake np bread ; but it can prove for us God, freedom, and 
immortality. Which, now, is more practical. Philosophy or 
Economy?" The reference here given is to a German 
edition of Novalis, so that it seems highly probable that the 
boy had learnt enough of the language to translate a bit for 
himself, though, as appears from entries in 1841, he had 
still to master the grammar completely. 

In science, he was much interested in electricity; he 
makes a galvanic battery " in view of experiment to get 
crystallized carbon. Got it deposited, but not crystallized." 
Other experiments and theorizing upon them are recorded 
in the following year. Another entry showing the courage 
of youth, deserves mention : — 

** Oct. 5 (1840). — Began speculating on the cause of 
colours at sunset. Has any explanation of them ever been 
attempted ? " which is supplemented by an extract " from 
old book." 

We may also remark the early note of Radicalism and 
resistance to anything savouring of injustice or oppression, 
together with the naive honesty of the admission that his 
opinions may change with years. 

Oct. 25 (at Hinckley). — Read Dr. S. Smith on the Divine 
Government. — Agree with him partly. — I should say that a gen- 
eral belief in his doctrines would have a very injurious effect on 

Nov. 22. — . . . Had a long talk with my mother and father 
about the right to make Dissenters pay church rates — and 


whether there ought to be any Establishment. I maintain that 
there ought not in both cases — I wonder what will be my opin- 
ion ten years hence ? I think now that it is against all laws of 
justice to force men to support a church with whose opinions 
they cannot conscientiously agree. The argument that the rate 
is so small is very fallacious. It is as much a sacrifice of prin- 
ciple to do a little wrong as to do a great one. 

Nov, 22 (Hinckley). — Had a long argument with Mr. May 
on the nature of the soul and the difference between it and 
matter. I maintained that it could not be proved that matter is 
essentially — as to its base — different from soul. Mr. M. wittily 
said, soul was the perspiration of matter. 

We cannot find the absolute basis of matter : we only know 
it by its properties ; neither know we the soul in any other way. 
Cogito ergo sum is the only thing that we certainly know. 

Why may not soul and matter be of the same substance {i.e. 
basis whereon to fix qualities, for we cannot suppose a quality 
to exist per se — ^it must have a something to qualify), but with 
different qualities. 

Let us suppose then an Eon — a something with no quality 
but that of existence — this Eon endued with all the intelligence, 
mental qualities, and that in the highest degree — is God. This 
combination of intelligence with existence we may suppose to 
have existed from eternity. At the creation we may suppose 
that a portion of the Eon was separated from the intelligence, and 
it was ordained — it became a natural law — ^that it should have the 
properties of gravitation, etc. — ^that is, that it should give to 
man the ideas of those properties. The Eon in this state is 
matter in the abstract. Matter, then, is Eon in the simplest 
form in which it possesses qualities appreciable by the senses. 
Out of this matter, by the superimposition of fresh qualities, was 
made all things that are. 


Jan. 7. — Came to Rotherhithe.* 

June 20. — ^What have I done in the way of acquiring knowl- 
edge since January ? 
Projects begun — 

1. German ) . . 1 

2. Italian } '"be learnt. 

3. To read MuUer's Physiology. 

♦ See Chap. H. 


4. To prepare for the Matriculation Examination at 

London University which requires knowledge of : — 

(a) Algebra — Geometry ) did not begin to read for 

(b) Natural Philosophy ) this till April 

(c) Chemistry. 

(d) Greek— Latin. 

(e) English History down to end of seventeenth 

(/) Ancient History. 
English Grammar. 

5. To make copious notes of all things I read. 

Projects completed — 

I. Partly. 2. Not at all. • 3 and 5, stuck to these pretty 

4. (e) Read as far as Henry HL in Hume. 

(a) Evolution and involution. 

(b) Refraction of light — Polarisation partly. 

(c) Laws of combination — must read them over 


(d) Nothing. 
(/) Nothing. 

I must get on faster than this. I must adopt a fixed plan of 
studies, for unless this is done I find time slips away without 
knowing it — and let me remember this — ^that it is better to read 
a little and thoroughly, than cram a crude undigested mass into 
my head, though it be great in quantity. 

(This is about the only resolution I have ever stuck to— 


[Well do I remember how in that little narrow surgery I 
used to work morning after morning and evening after evening 
at that insufferably dry and profitless book, Hume's History, 
how I worked against hope through the series of thefts, rob- 
beries, and throat-cutting in those three first volumes, and how 
at length I gave up the task in utter disgust and despair. 

Macintosh's History, on the other hand, I remember reading 
with great pleasure, and also Guizot's Civilisation in Europe, the 
scientific theoretical form of the latter especially pleased me, but 
the want of sufficient knowledge to test his conclusions was a 
great drawback. 1845]. 

There follow notes of work done in successive weeks — 
June 20 to August 9, and September 27 to October 4. 


History, German, Mathematics, Physics, Physiology; makes 
an electro-magnet ; reads Guizot's History of Civilisation in 
Europe, on which he remarks "an excellent work — ^very 
tough reading, though." 

At the beginning of October, under " Miscellaneous," 
" Becsftne acquainted with constitution of French Chambre 
des deputes and their parties." 

It was his practice to note any sayings that struck 
him: — 

Truths : *' I hate all people who want to found sects. It is 
not error but sects — ^it is not error but sectarian error, nay, and 
even sectarian truth, which causes the unhappiness of man- 
kind." — ^Lessing. 

" It is only necessary to grow old to become more indul- 
gent. I see no fault committed that I have not committed 
myself. . . ." — Goethe. 

" One solitary philosopher may be great, virtuous, and happy 
in the midst of poverty, but not a whole nation. . . ." — Isaac 


Jan, 30, Sunday evening. — I have for some time been pon- 
dering over a classification of knowledge. My scheme is to divide 
all knowledge in the first place into two grand divisions, i. Ob- 
jective — ^that for which a man is indebted to the external world ; 
and 2. Subjective — ^that which he has acquired or may acquire 
by inward contemplation. 

Subjective Objective 



Metaphys. proper Maths. Logic Theology Morality Hist. Physiology Physics 

Metaphysics comes immediately, of course, under the first 
(2) head— that is to say, the relations of the mind to itself; 
of this Mathematics and Logic, together with Theology, are 

I am in doubt under which head to put morality, for I can- 
not determine exactly in my own mind whether morality can 
exist independent of others, whether the idea of morality could 
ever have arisen in the mind of an isolated being or not. I am 
rather inclined to the opinion that it is objective. 


Under the head of objective knowledge comes first Physics, 
including the whole body of the relations of inanimate unorgan- 
ised bodies; secondly, Physiology. Including the structure and 
functions of animal bodies, including language and Psychology ; 
thirdly comes History. 

One object for which I have attempted to form an arrange- 
ment of knowledge is that I may test the amount of my own 
acquirements. I shall form an extensive list of. subjects on this 
plan, and as I acquire any one of them I shall strike it out of the 
list. May the list soon get black I though at present I shall 
hardly be able, I am afraid, to spot the paper. 

(A prophecy ! a prophecy, 1845 0- 

April 1842 introduces a number of quotations from 
Carlyle's Miscellaneous Writings, " Characteristics," some 
clear and crisp, others sinking into Carlyle's own vein of 
speculative mysticism, e.g. 

" In the mind as in the body the sign of health is uncon- 

" Of our thinking it is but the upper surface that we shape 
into articulate thought; underneath ttic region of argument and 
coMScious discourse lies the region of meditation." 

"Genius is ev^r a secret to itself." 

" The healthy understanding, we should say, is neither the 
argumentative nor the Logical, but the Intuitive, for the end of 
understanding is not to prove and find reasons but to know and 
believe "(I) 

"The ages of heroism are not ages of Moral Philosophy. 
Virtue, when it is philosophised of, has become aware of itself, 
is sickly and beginning to decline." 

At the same time more electrical experiments are re- 
corded; and theories are advanced with pros and cons to 
account for the facts observed. 

The last entry was made three years later — 

Oct, 1845. — I have found singular pleasure — having acci- 
dentally raked this Biichlein from a comer of my desk — ^in look- 
ing over these scraps of notices of my past existence ; an illus- 
tration of J. Paul's saying that a man has but to write down his 
yesterday's doings, and forthwith they appear surrounded with 
a poetic halo. 

But after all, these are but the top skimmings of these five 


years* living. I hardly care to look back into the seething 
depths of the working and boiling mass that lay beneath all this 
froth, and indeed I hardly know whether I could give myself 
any clear account of it Remembrances of physical and mental 
pain . . . absence of sympathy, and thence a choking up of 
such few ideas as I did form clearly within my own mind. 

Grief too, yet at the misfortune of others, for I have had few 
properly my own; so much the worse, for in that case I might 
have said or done somewhat, but here was powerless. 

Oh, Tom, trouble not thyself about sympathy ; thou hast two 
stout legs and young, wherefore need a staff? 

Furthermore, it is twenty minutes past two, and time to go 
to bed. 

Biichlein, it will be long before my secretiveness remains so 
quiet again ; make the most of what thou hast got. 



The migration to Rotherhithe, noted under date of Janu- 
ary 9, 1841, was a fresh step in his careen In 1839 both his 
sisters married, and both married doctors. Dr. Cooke, the 
husband of the elder sister, who was settled in Coventry, 
had begun to give him some instruction in the principles 
of medicine as early as the preceding June. It was now 
arranged that he should go as assistant to Mr. Chandler, of 
Rotherhithe, a practical preliminary to walking the hospitals 
and obtaining a medical degree in London. His experi- 
ences among the poor in the dock region of the East of 
London — for Dr. Chandler had charge of the parish — ^sup- 
plied him with a grim commentary on his diligent reading 
in Carlyle. Looking back on this period, he writes: — 

The last recorded speech of Professor Teufelsdrockh pro- 
poses the toast * Die Sache der Armen in Gottes und Teufels- 

namen' (The cause of the Poor in Heaven's name and *s.) 

The cause of the Poor is the burden of Past and Present, Chart- 
ism, and Latter-Day Pamphlets, To me . . . this advocacy of 
the cause of the poor appealed very strongly . . . because . . . 
I had had the opportunity of seeing for myself something of 
the way the poor live. Not much, indeed, but still enough to 
give a terrible foundation of real knowledge to my speculations. 

After telling how he came to know something of the 
East End, he proceeds : — 

I saw strange things there — among the rest, people who 
came to me for medical aid, and who were really suffering from 
nothing but slow starvation. I have not forgotten — am not 


likely to forget so long as memory holds — ^a visit to a sick girl 
in a wretched garret where two or three other women, one a 
deformed woman, sister of my patient, were busy shirt-making. 
After due examination, even my small medical knowledge suf- 
ficed to show that my patient was merely in want of some better 
food than iht bread and bad tea on which these people were 
living. I said so as gently as I could, and the sister turned 
upon me with a kind of choking passion. Pulling out of her 
pocket a few pence and halfpence, and holding them out, '* That 
is all I get for six and thirty hours' work, and you talk about 
giving her proper food." 

Well, I left that to pursue my medical studies, and it so hap- 
pened the shortest way between the school which I attended 
and the library of the College of Surgeons, where my spare 
hours were largely spent, lay through certain courts and alleys, 
Vinegar Yard and others, which are now nothing like what they 
were then. Nobody would have found robbing me a profitable 
employment in those days, and I used to walk through these 
wretched dens without let or hindrance. Alleys nine or ten feet 
wide, I suppose, with tall houses full of squalid drunken men 
and women, and the pavement strewed with still more squalid 
children. The place of air was taken by a steam of filthy ex- 
halations; and the only relief to the general dull apathy was a 
roar of words — filthy and brutal beyond imagination — ^between 
the closed-packed neighbours, occasionally ending in a general 
row. All this almost within hearing of the traffic of the Strand, 
within easy reach of the wealth and plenty of the city. 

I used to wonder sometimes why these people did not sally 
forth in mass and get a few hours' eating and drinking and 
plunder to their hearts* content, before the police could stop 
and hang a few of them. But the poor wretches had not the 
heart even for that. As a slight, wiry Liverpool detective once 
said to me when I asked him how it was he managed to deal 
with such hulking ruffians as we were among, " Lord bless you, 
sir, drink and disease leave nothing in them." 

This early contact with the sternest facts of the social 
problem impressed him profoundly. And though not ac- 
tively employed in what is generally called " philanthropy," 
still he did his part, hopefully but soberly, not only to 
throw light on the true issues and to strip away make- 
believe from them, but also to bring knowledge to the 
working classes, and to institute machinery by which ca- 


pacity should be caught and led to a position where it might 
be useful instead of dangerous to social order. 

After some time, however, he left Mr. Chandler to join 
his second brother-in-law,* who had set up in the north of 
London, and to whom he was duly apprenticed, as his 
brother James had been before him. This change gave him 
more time and opportunity to pursue his medical education. 
He attended lectures at the Sydenham College, and, as has 
been seen, began to prepare for the matriculation examina- 
tion of the University of London. At the Sydenham Col- 
lege he met with no little success, winning, besides certifi- 
cates of merit in other departments, a prize — his first prize 
— for botany. His vivid recollections, given below, of this 
entry into the scientific arena are taken from a journal he 
kept for his fiancee during his absence from Sydney on the 
cruises of the Rattlesnake, 

On Board H. M.S. Rattlesnake, Christmas 1847. 

Next summer it will be six years since I made my first trial 
in the world. My first public competition, small as it was, was 
an epoch in my life. I had been attending (it was my first sum- 
mer session) the botanical lectures at Chelsea. One morning I 
observed a notice stuck up — ^a notice of a public competition for 
medals, etc., to take place on the ist August (if I recollect right). 
It was then the end of May or thereabouts. I remember looking 
longingly at the notice, and some one said to me, " Why don't 
you go in and try for it ? " I laughed at the idea, for I was very 
young, and my knowledge somewhat of the vaguest. Neverthe- 
less I mentioned the matter to S.f when I returned home. He 
likewise advised me to try, and so I determined I would. I set 
to work in earnest, and perseveringly applied myself to such 
works as I could lay my hands on, Lindlcy's and Decandolle's 
Systems and the Annates des Sciences Naturelles in the British 
Museum. I tried to read Schleiden, but my German was insuf- 

For a young hand I worked really hard from eight or nine 
in the morning until twelve at night, besides a long hot sum- 
mer's walk over to Chelsea two or three times a week to hear 
Lindley. A great part of the time I worked till sunrise. The 

♦ John Godwin Scott. t His brother-in-law. 


result was a sort of ophthalmia which kept me from reading at 
night for months afterwards. 

The day of examination came, and as I went along the pas- 
sage to go out I well remember dear Lizzie,* half in jest, half 
in earnest, throwing her shoe after me, as she said, for luck. 
She was alone, beside S., in the secret, and almost as anxious 
as I was. How I reached the examination room I hardly know, 
but I recollect finding myself at last with pen and ink and paper 
before me and five other beings, all older than myself, at a long 
table. We stared at one another like strange cats in a garret, 
but at length the examiner (Ward) entered, and before each 
was placed the paper of questions and sundry plants. I looked 
at my questions, but for some moments could hardly hold my 
pen, so extreme was my nervousness; but when I once fairly 
began, my ideas crowded upon me almost faster than I could 
write them. And so we all sat, nothing heard but the scratching 
of the pens and the occasional crackle of the examiner's Times 
as he quietly looked over the news of the day. 

The examination began at eleven. At two they brought in 
lunch. It was a good meal enough, but the circumstances were 
not particularly favourable to enjo3rment, so after a short delay 
we resumed our work. It began to be evident between whom the 
contest lay, and the others determined that I was one man's 
competitor and Stocks f (he is now in the East India service) 
the other. Scratch, scratch, scratch I Four o'clock came, the 
usual hour of closing the examination, but Stocks and I had not 
half done, so with the consent of the others we petitioned for an 
extension. The examiner was willing to let us go on as long as 
we liked. Never did I see man write like Stocks; one might 
have taken him for an attorney's clerk writing for his dinner. 
We went on. I had finished a little after eight, he went on till 
near nine, and then we had tea and dispersed. 

Great were the greetings I received when I got home, where 
my long absence had caused some anxiety. The decision would 
not take place for some weeks, and many were the speculations 
made as to the probabilities of success. I for my part managed 
to forget all about it, and went on my ordinary avocations with- 
out troubling myself more than I could possibly help about it. 

♦ His eldest sister, Mrs. Scott. 

f John Ellerton Stocks, M.D., London, distinguished himself as a 
botanist in India. He travelled and collected in Beloochistan and 
Scinde ; died 1854. 


I knew too well my own deficiencies to have been either sur- 
prised or disappointed at failure, and I made a point of shatter- 
ing all involuntary "' castles in the air " as soon as possible. My 
worst anticipations were realised. One day S. came to me with 
a sorrowful expression of countenance. He had inquired of the 
Beadle as to the decision, and ascertained on the latter's au- 
thority that all the successful candidates were University Col- 
lege men, whereby, of course, I was excluded I said, " Very 
well, the thing was not to be helped," put my best face upon the 
matter, and gave up all thoughts of it Lizzie, too, came to com- 
fort me, and, I believe, felt it more than I did. What was my 
surprise on returning home one afternoon to find myself sud- 
denly seized, and the whole female household vehemently insist- 
ing on kissing me. It appeared an official-looking letter had 
arrived for me, and Lizzie, as I did not appear, could not re- 
strain herself from opening it. I was second, and was to re- 
ceive a medal * ilccordingly, and dine with the guild on the 9th 
November to have it bestowed. 

I dined with the company, and bore my share in both pud- 
ding and praise, but the charm of success lay in Lizzie's warm 
congratulation and S3rmpathy. Since then she always took upon 
herself to prophesy touching the future fortunes of " the boy." 

The haphazard, unsystematic nature of preliminary 
medical study here presented can not fail to strike one with 
wonder. Thomas Huxley was now seventeen; he had al- 
ready had two years' " practice in pharmacy " as a testi- 
monial put it After a similar apprenticeship, his brother 
had made the acquaintance of the director of the Gloucester 
Lunatic Asylum, and was given by him the post of dispenser 
or " apothecary," which he filled so satisfactorily as to re- 
ceive a promise that if he went to London for a couple of 
years to complete his medical training, a substitute should 

♦ Silver Medal of the Pharmaceutical Society, 9th November 1842. 
Another botanical prize is a book — La Botaniqui^ by A. Richard — with 
the following inscription : — 

Thomas Huxley 

In Exercitatione Botanices 

Apud Scholam Collegii Sydenhamiensis 

Optime Merenti 

Hunc librum dono dedit 

RiCARDUS D. HoBLVN, Botanices Professor. 


be appointed meanwhile to keep the place until he re- 

The opportunity to which both the brothers looked 
came in the shape of the Free Scholarships offered by the 
Charing Cross Hospital to students whose parents were 
unable to pay for their education. Testimonials as to the 
position and general education of the candidates were re- 
quired, and It is curious that one of the persons applied 
to by the elder Huxley was J. H. Newman, at that time 
Vicar of Littlemore, who had been educated at Dr. Nicholas' 
School at Ealing. 

The application for admission to the lectures and other 
teaching at the Hospital states of the young T. H. Huxley 
that " He has a fair knowledge of Latin, reads French with 
facility, and knows something of German.. He has also 
made considerable progress in the Mathematics, having, 
as far as he has advanced, a thorough not a superficial 
knowledge of the subject." The document ends in the 
following confident words : — 

I appeal to the certificates and testimonials that will be here- 
with submitted for evidence of their past conduct, offering pro- 
spectively that these young men, if elected to the Free Scholar- 
ships of the Charing Cross Hospital and Medical College, will 
be diligent students, and in all things submit themselves to the 
controul and guidance of the Director and Medical Officers of 
the establishment. A father may be pardoned, perhaps, for add- 
ing his belief that these young men will hereafter reflect credit 
on any institution from which they may receive their education. 

The authorities replied that " although it is not usual to 
receive two members of the same family at the same time, 
the officers taking into consideration the age of Mr. Huxley, 
sen., the numerous and satisfactory testimonials of his re- 
spectability, and of the good conduct and merits of the 
candidates, have decided upon admitting Mr. J. E. and Mr. 
T. Huxley on this occasion." 

The brothers began their hospital course on October i, 
1842. Here, after a time, my father seems to have begun 
working more steadily and systematically than he had done 
before, under the influence of a really good teacher. 


Looking back (he says) on my " Lehrjahre," I am sorry to 
say that I do not think that any account of my doings as a 
student would tend to edification. In fact, I should distinctly 
warn ingenuous youth to avoid imitating my example. I worked 
extremely hard when it pleased me, and when it did not, which 
was a very frequent case, I was extremely idle (unless making 
caricatures of one's pastors and masters is to be called a branch 
of industry), or else wasted my energies in wrong directions. I 
read everything I could lay hands upon, including novels, and 
took up all sorts of pursuits to drop them again quite as speedily. 
No doubt it was very largely my own fault, but the only in- 
struction from which I obtained the proper effect of education 
was that which I received from Mr. Wharton Jones, who was 
the lecturer on physiology at the Charing Cross School of Medi- 
cine. The extent and precision of his knowledge impressed 
me greatly, and the severe exactness of his method of lecturing 
was quite to my taste. I do not know that I have ever felt so 
much respect for anybody as a teacher before or since. I 
worked hard to obtain his approbation, and he was extremely 
kind and helpful to the youngster who, I am afraid, took up 
more of his time than he had any right to do. It was he who 
suggested the publication of my first scientific paper — a very 
little one — in the Medical Gazette of 1845, and most kindly cor- 
rected the literary faults which abounded in it, short as it was ; 
for at that time, and for many years afterwards, I detested the 
trouble of writing, and would take no pains with it. 

He never forgot his debt to Wharton Jones, and years 
afterwards was delighted at being able to do him a good 
turn, by helping to obtain a pension for him. But although 
in retrospect he condemns the fitfulness of his energies and 
his want of system, which left much to be learned afterwards, 
which might with advantage have been learned then, still it 
was his energy that struck his contemporaries. I have a 
story from one of them that when the other students used 
to go out into the court of the hospital after lectures were 
over, they would invariably catch sight of young Huxley's 
dark head at a certain window bent over a microscope while 
they amused themselves outside. The constant silhouette 
framed in the outlines of the window tickled the fancy of 
the young fellows, and a wag amongst them dubbed it with 
a name that stuck, " The Sign of the Head and Microscope." 


The scientific paper, too, which he mentions, was some- 
what remarkable under the circumstances. It is not given 
to every medical student to make an anatomical discovery, 
even a small one. In this case the boy of nineteen, in- 
vestigating things for himself, found a hitherto undiscovered 
membrane in the root of the human hair, which received the 
name of Huxley's layer. 

Speculations, too, such as had filled his mind in early 
boyhood, still haunted his thoughts. In one of his letters 
from the Rattlesnake, he gives an account of how he was 
possessed in his student days by that problem which has 
beset so many a strong imagination, the problem of per- 
petual motion, and even sought an interview with Faraday, 
whom he left with the resolution to meet the great man 
some day on a more equal footing. 

MarcA 1848. 

To-day, ruminating over the manifold ins and outs of life in 
general, and my own in particular, it came into my head sud- 
denly that I would write down my interview with Faraday — 
how many years ago? Aye, there's the rub, for I have com- 
pletely forgotten. However, it must have been in either my 
first or second winter session at Charing Cross, and it was be- 
fore Christmas I feel sure. 

I remember how my long brooding perpetual motion scheme 
(which I had made more than one attempt to realise, but failed 
owing to insufllicient mechanical dexterity) had been working 
upon me, depriving me of rest even, and heating my brain with 
chateaux d'Espagne of endless variety. I remember, too, it 
was Sunday morning when I determined to put the questions, 
which neither my wits nor my hands would set at rest, into some 
hands for decision, and I determined to go before some tribunal 
from whence appeal should be absurd. 

But to whom to go ? I knew no one among the high priests 
of science, and going about with a scheme for perpetual motion 
was, I knew, for most people the same thing as courting ridicule 
among high and low. After all I fixed upon Faraday, possibly 
perhaps because I knew where he was to be found, but in part 
also because the cool logic of his works made me hope that my 
poor scheme would be treated on some other principle than that 
of mere previous opinion one way or other. Besides, the known 
courtesy and aflFability of the man encouraged me. So I wrote 


a letter, drew a plan, enclosed the two in an envelope, and 
tremblingly betook myself on the following afternoon to the 
Royal Institution. 

" Is Dr. Faraday here ? " said I to the porter. " No sir, he 
has just gone out." I felt relieved. " Be good enough to give 
him this letter," and I was hurrying out when a little man in a 
brown coat came in at the glass door. " Here is Dr. Faraday," 
said the man, and gave him my letter. He turned to me and 
courteously inquired what I wished. " To submit to you that 
letter, sir, if you are not occupied." " My time is always occu- 
pied, sir, but step this way," and he led me into the museum or 
library, for I forget which it was, only I know there was a glass 
case against which we leant. He read my letter, did not think 
my plan would answer. Was I acquainted with mechanism, 
what we call the laws of motion? I saw all was up with my 
poor scheme, so after trying a little to explain, in the course of 
which I certainly failed in giving him a clear idea of what I 
would be at, I thanked him for his attention, and went off as 
dissatisfied as ever. The sense of one part of the conversation 
I well recollect. He said " that were the perpetual motion pos- 
sible, it would have occurred spontaneously in nature, and would 
have overpowered all other forces," or words to that effect. I 
did not see the force of this, but did not feel competent enough 
to discuss the question. 

However, all this exorcised my devil, and he has rarely come 
to trouble me since. Some future day, perhaps, I may be able to 
call Faraday's attention more decidedly. Perge modo ! " wie das 
Gestim, ohne Hast, ohne Rast" (Das Gestirn in a midshipman's 

In other respects also his student's career was a brilliant 
one. In 1843 he won the first chemical prize, the certificate 
stating that his ** extraordinary diligence and success in the 
pursuit of this branch of science do him infinite honour." 
At the same time, he also won the first prize in the class of 
anatomy and physiology. On the back of Wharton Jones' 
certificate is scribbled in pencil : " Well, 'tis no matter. 
Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me 
off when I come on ? How then ? " 

Finally, in 1845 he went up for his M.B. at London 
. University, and won a gold medal for anatomy and physi- 
ology, being second in honours in that section. 


Whatever then he might think of his own work, judged 
by his own standards, he had done well enough as medical 
students go. But a brilliant career as a student did not suf- 
fice to start him in life or provide him with a livelihood. How 
he came to enter the Navy is best told in his own words. 

It was in the early spring of 1846, that, having finished my 
obligatory medical studies and passed the first M.B. examina- 
tion at the London University, though I was still too young to 
qualify at the College of Surgeons, I was talking to a fellow- 
student (the present eminent physician. Sir Joseph Fayrer), 
and wondering what I should do to meet the imperative neces- 
sity for earning my own bread, when my friend suggested that 
I should write to Sir William Burnett, at that time Director- 
General for the Medical Service of the Navy, for an appoint- 
ment. I thought this rather a strong thing to do, as Sir William 
was personally unknown to me, but my cheery friend would not 
listen to my scruples, so I went to my lodgings and wrote the 
best letter I could devise. A few days afterwards I received 
the usual official circular of acknowledgment, but at the bottom 
there was written an instruction to call at Somerset House on 
such a day. I thought that looked like business, so at the 
appointed time I called and sent in my card while I waited in 
Sir William's anteroom. He was a tall, shrewd-looking old 
gentleman, with a broad Scotch accent, and I think I see him 
now as he entered with my card in his hand. The first thing he 
did was to return it, with the frugal reminder that I should 
probably find it useful on some other occasion. The second was 
to ask whether I was an Irishman. I suppose the air of modesty 
about my appeal must have struck him. I satisfied the Director- 
General that I was English to the backbone, and he made some 
inquiries as to my student career, finally desiring me to hold 
myself ready for examination. Having passed this, I was in 
Her Majesty's Service, and entered on the books of Nelson's old 
ship the Victory, for duty at Haslar Hospital, about a couple 
of months after my application. 

My official chief at Haslar was a very remarkable person, 
the late Sir John Richardson, an excellent naturalist and far- 
famed as an indomitable Arctic traveller. He was a silent, re- 
served man, outside the circle of his family and intimates ; and 
having a full share of youthful vanity, I was extremely dis- 
gusted to find that " Old John," as we irreverent youngsters 
called him, took not the slightest notice of my worshipful self, ' 


either the first time I attended him, as it was my duty to do, or 
for some weeks afterwards. I am afraid to think of the leng^s 
to which my tongue may have run on the subject of the churl- 
ishness of the chief, who was, in truth, one of the kindest- 
hearted and most considerate of men. But one day, as I was 
crossing the hospital square. Sir John stopped me and heaped 
coals of fire on my head by telling me that he had tried to get 
me one of the resident appointments, much coveted by the assist- 
ant-surgeons, but that die Admiralty had put in another man. 
" However," said he, " I mean to keep you here till I can get 
you something you will like," and turned upon his heel without 
waiting for the thanks I stammered out. That explained how it 
was I had not been packed off to the West Coast of Africa like 
some of my juniors, and why, eventually, I remained altogether 
seven months at Haslar. 

After a long interval, during which " Old John " ignored my 
existence almost as completely as before, he stopped me again as 
we met in a casual way, and describing the service on which the 
Rattlesnake was likely to be employed, said that Captain Owen 
Stanley, who was to command the ship, had asked him to recom- 
mend an assistant surgeon who knew something of science; 
would I like that ? Of course I jumped at the offer. " Very 
well, I give you leave ; go to London at once and see Captain 
Stanley." I went, saw my future commander, who was very 
civil to me, and promised to ask that I should be appointed to 
his ship, as in due time I was. It is a singular thing that during 
the few months of my stay at Haslar I had among my mess- 
mates two future Directors-General of the Medical Service of 
the Navy (Sir Alexander Armstrong and Sir John Watt-Reid), 
with the present President of the College of Physicians, and 
my kindest of doctors. Sir Andrew Clark. 

A letter to his eldest sister, Lizzie, dated from Haslar 
May 24, 1846, shows how he regarded the prospect now 
opening before him. 

... As I see no special queries in your letter, I think I shall 
go on to tell you what that same way of life is likely to be — ^my 
fortune having already been told for me ( for the next five years 
at least). I told you in my last that I was likely to have a perma- 
nency here. Well, I was recommended by Sir John Richardson, 
and should have certainly had it, had not (luckily) the Ad- 
miralty put in a man of their own. Having a good impudent 


faith in my own star (Wie das Gestirn, ohne Hast, ohne Rast), 
I knew this was only because I was to have something better, 
and so it turned out; for a day or two after I was ousted from 
the museum, Sir J. Richardson (who has shown himself for 
some reason or another a special good friend to me) told me 
that he had received a letter from Captain Owen Stanley, who 
is to command an exploring expedition to New Guinea (not 
coast of Africa, mind), requesting him to recommend an assist- 
ant surgeon for this expedition — ^would I like the appointment? 
As you may imagine I was delighted at the offer, and immedi- 
ately accepted it. I was recommended accordingly ta Captain 
Stanley and Sir W. Burnett, and I shall be appointed as soon 
as the ship is in commission. We are to have the Rattlesnake, 
a 28-gun frigate, and as she will fit out here I shall have no 
trouble. We sail probably in September. 

New Guinea, as you may be aware, is a place almost un- 
known, and our object is to bring back a full account of its 
Geography, Geology, and Natural History. In the latter de- 
partment with which I shall have (in addition to my medical 
functions) somewhat to do, we shall form one grand collection 
of specimens and deposit it in the British Museum or some 
other public place, and this main object being always kept in 
view, we are at liberty to collect and work for ourselves as we 
please. Depend upon it unless some sudden attack of laziness 
supervenes, such an opportunity shall not slip unused out of 
my hands. The great difficulty in such a wide field is to choose 
an object. In this point, however, I hope to be greatly assisted 
by the scientific folks, to many of whom I have already had 
introductions (Owen, Gray, Grant, Forbes), and this, I assure 
you, I look upon as by no means the least of the advantages 
I shall derive from being connected with the expedition. I have 
been twice to town to see Captain Stanley. He is a son of the 
Bishop of Norwich, is an exceedingly gentlemanly man, a thor- 
ough scientific enthusiast, and shows himself altogether very 
much disposed to forward my views in every possible way. 
Being a scientific man himself he will take care to have the 
ship's arrangements as far as possible in harmony with scientific 
pursuits — a circumstance you would appreciate as highly as I 
do if you were as well acquainted as I now am with the ordinary 
opportunities of an assistant surgeon. Furthermore, I am given 
to understand that if one does anything at all, promotion is 
almost certain. So that altogether I am in a very fair way, 
and would snap my fingers at the Grand Turk. Wharton Jones 


was delighted when I told him about my appointment. Dim 
visions of strangely formed corpuscles seemed to cross his imagi- 
nation like the ghosts of the kings in Macbeth. 

What seems his head 
The likeness of a nucleated cell has on. 

The law's delays are proverbial, but on this occasion, as 
on the return of the Rattlesnake, the Admiralty seem to 
have been almost as provoking to the eager young surgeon 
as any lawyer could have been. The appointment was 
promised in May; it was not made till October. On the 
6th of that month there is another letter to his sister, giving 
fuller particulars of his prospects on the voyage : — 

My dearest Lizzie — At last I have really got my appoint- 
ment and joined my ship. I was so completely disgusted with 
the many delays that had occurred that I made up my mind not 
to write to anybody again until I had my commission in my 
hand. Henceforward, like another Jonah, my dwelling-place 
will be the " inwards " of the Rattlesnake, and upon the whole 
I really doubt whether Jonah was much worse accommodated, so 
far as room goes, than myself. My total length, as you are aware, 
is considerable, 5 feet 11 inches, possibly, but the height of the 
lower deck of the Rattlesnake, which will be my especial loca- 
tion, is at the outside 4 feet 10 inches. What I am to do with 
the superfluous foot I cannot divine. Happily, however, there 
is a sort of skylight into the berth, so that I shall be able to sit 
with the body in it and my head out. 

Apart from joking, however, this is not such a great matter, 
and it is the only thing I would see altered in the whole affair. 
The officers, as far as I have seen them, are a very gentlemanly, 
excellent set of men, and considering we are to be together for 
four or five years, that is a matter of no small importance. I 
am not g^ven to be sanguine, but I confess I expect a good deal 
to arise out of this appointment. In the first place, surveying ' 
ships are totally different from the ordinary run of men-of-war. 
The requisite discipline is kept up, but not in the martinet style. 
Less form is observed. From die men who are appointed hav- 
ing more or less scientific turns, they have more respect for 
one another than that given by mere position in the service, 
and hence that position is less taken advantage of. They are 
brought more into contact, and hence those engaged in the sur- 
veying service almost proverbially stick by one another. To 


me, whose interest in the service is almost all to be made, this 
is a matter of no small importance. 

Then again, in a surveying ship you can work. In an ordi- 
nary frigate if a fellow has the talents of all the scientific men 
from Archimedes downwards compressed into his own peculiar 
skull they are all lost. Even if it were possible to study in a 
midshipmen's berth, you have not room in your "chat" for 
more Uian a dozen books. But in the Rattlesnake the whole 
poop is to be converted into a large chart-room with bookshelves 
and tables and plenty of light There I may read, draw, or 
microscopise at pleasure, and as to books, I have a carte blanche 
from the Captain to take as many as I please, of which permis- 
sion we shall avail ourself — rather — and besides all this, from 
the peculiar way in which I obtained this appointment, I shall 
have a much wider swing than assistant surgeons in general 
get I can see clearly that certain branches of the natural his- 
tory work will fall into my hands if I manage properly through 
Sir John Richardson, who has shown himself a very kind friend 
all diroughout, and also through Captain Stanley I have been 
introduced to several eminent zoologists — ^to Owen and Gray 
and Forbes of King's College. From all these men much is to be 
learnt which becomes peculiarly my own, and can of course only 
be used and applied by me. From Forbes especially I have 
learned and shall learn much with respect to dredging opera- 
tions (which bear on many of the most interesting points of 
zoology). In consequence of this I may very likely be entrusted 
with the carrying of them out, and all that is so much the more 
towards my opportunities. Again, I have learnt the calotype pro- 
cess for the express purpose of managing the calotype apparatus, 
for which Captain Stanley has applied to the Government. 

And having once for all enumerated all these meaner pros- 
pects of mere personal advancement, I must confess I do glory in 
the prospect of being able to g^ve myself up to my own favourite 
pursuits without thereby neglecting the proper duties of life. 
And then perhaps by the following of my favourite motto— 

Wie das Gestirn, 
Ohne Hast, 
Ohne Rast— 

something may be done, and some of Sister Lizzie's fond imagi- 
nations turn out not altogether untrue. 

I perceive that I have nearly finished a dreadfully egotistical 
letter, but I know you like to hear of my doings, so shall not 



apologise. Kind regards to the Doctor and kisses to the babbies. 
Write me a long letter all about yourselves. — Your affect, 
brother, T. H. Huxley. 

One more description to complete the sketch of his 
quarters on board the Rattlesnake. It is from a letter to 
his mother, written at Plymouth, where the Rattlesnake put 
in after leaving Portsmouth. The comparison with the ordi- 
nary quarters of an assistant-surgeon, and the shifts to which 
a studious man might be put in his endeavour to find a quiet 
spot to work in, have a flavour of Mr. Midshipman Easy 
about them to relieve the deplorable reality of his situation : — 

You will be very glad to know that I am exceedingly com- 
fortable here. My cabin has now got into tolerable order, and 
what with my books — ^which are, I am happy to say, not a few 
— ^my gay curtain and the spicy oilcloth which will be down on 
the floor, looks most respectable. Furthermore, although it is 
an unquestionably dull day I have sufficient light to write here, 
without the least trouble, to read, or even if necessary, to use 
my microscope. I went to see a friend of mine on board the 
Recruit the other day, and truly I hugged myself when I com- 
pared my position with his. The berth where he and seven 
others eat their daily bread is hardly bigger than my cabin, ex- 
cept in height — and, of course, he has to sleep in a hammock. 
My friend is rather an eccentric character, and, being missed 
in the ship, was discovered the other day reading in the main- 
top — ^the only place, as he said, sufficiently retired for study. 
And this is really no exaggeration. If I had no cabin I should 
take to drinking in a month. 

It was during this period of waiting that he attended his 
first meeting of the British Association, which was held in 
1846 at Southampton. Here he obtained from Professor 
Edward Forbes one of his living specimens of Amphioxus 
lanceolatus, and made an examination of its blood. The 
result was a short paper read at the following meeting of 
the Association,* which showed that in the composition of 
its blood this lowly vertebrate approached very near the 

♦ *' Examination of the Corpuscles of the Blood of Amphioxus lan- 
ceolatus," British Association Report^ 1847, ii. p. 95, and Sci. Memoirs^ i. 



It is a curious coincidence that, like two other leaders of 
science, Charles Darwin and Joseph Dalton Hooker, their 
close friend Huxley began his scientific career on board one 
of Her Majesty's ships. He was, however, to learn how 
little the British Government of that day, for all its pro- 
fessions, really cared for the advancement of knowledge.* 
But of the immense value to himself of these years of hard 
training, the discipline, the knowledge of men and of the 
capabilities of life, even without more than the barest ne- 
cessities of existence— of this he often spoke. As he puts 
it in his Autobiography : — 

Life on board Her Majesty's ships in those days was a very 
different affair from what it is now, and ours was exceptionally 
rough, as we were often many months without receiving letters 
or seeing any civilised people but ourselves. In exchange, we 
had the interest of being about the last voyagers, I suppose, to 
whom it could be possible to meet with people who knew noth- 

* The key to this attitude on the part of the Admiralty is to be 
found in the scathing description in Briggs' Naval Administration from 
1827 to i8g2, p. 92, of the ruinous parsimony of either political party at 
this time with regard to the navy — a policy the results of which were 
only too apparent at the outbreak of the Crimean War. I quote a 
couple of sentences, '* The navy estimates were framed upon the lowest 
scale, and reduction pushed to the very verge of danger.** ** Even 
from a financial point of view the course pursued was the reverse of 
economical, and ultimately led to wasteful and increased expenditure.** 
Thus the liberal professions of the Admiralty were not fulfilled ; its 
goodwill gave the young surgeon three and a half years of leave from 
active service ; with an obdurate treasury, it could do no more. 




ing of firearms — ^as we did on the south coast of New Guinea 
— ^and of making acquaintance with a variety of interesting 
savage and semi-civilised people. But, apart from experience of 
this kind and the opportunities offered for scientific work, to me, 
personally, the cruise was extremely valuable. It was good for 
me to live under sharp discipline; to be down on the realities 
of existence by living on bare necessaries : to find how extremely 
well worth living life seemed to be when one woke up from a 
night's rest on a soft plank, with the sky for canopy, and cocoa 
and weevilly biscuit the sole prospect for breakfast; and, more 
especially, to learn to work for the sake of what I got for myself 
out of it, even .if it all went to the bottom and I along with it. 
My brother officers were as good fellows as sailors ought to be 
and generally are, but, naturally, they neither knew nor cared 
anything about my pursuits, nor understood why I should be so 
zealous in pursuit of the objects which my friends, the middies, 
christened " Buffons," after the title conspicuous on a volume 
of the Suites d Buffon, which stood on my shelf in the chart- 

On the whole, life among the company of oflScers was 
satisfactory enough.* Huxley's immediate superior, John 
Thompson, was a man of sterling worth ; and Captain Stan- 
ley was an excellent commander, and sympathetic withal. 
Among Huxley's messmates there was only one, the ship's 
clerk, who ever made himself actively disagreeable, and a 
quarrel with him only served to bring into relief the young 
surgeon's integrity and directness of action. After some 
dispute, in which he had been worsted, this gentleman 
sought to avenge himself by dropping mysterious hints as 
to Huxley's conduct before joining the ship. He had been 
treasurer of his mess; there had been trouble about the 
accounts, and a scandal had barely been averted. This was 
not long in coming to Huxley's ears. Furiously indignant 
as he was, he did not lose his self-control; but promptly 

* The Assistant-Surgeon messed in the gun-room with the middies. 
A man in the midst of a lot of boys, with hardly any grown-up com- 
panions, often has a rather unenviable position ; but, says Captain 
Heath, who was one of these middies, Huxley*s constant good spirits 
and fun, when he was not absorbed in his work, his freedom from any 
assumption of superiority over them, made the boys his good comrades 
and allies. 

1846-47 LEAVES ENGLAND 33 

inviting the members of the wardroom to meet as a court 
of honour, laid his case before them, and challenged his 
accuser to bring forward any tittle of evidence in support 
of his insinuations. The latter had nothing to say for him- 
self, and made a formal retraction and apology. A signed 
account of the proceedings was kept by the first officer, and 
a duplicate by Huxley, as a defence against any possible 
revival of the slander. 

On December 3, 1846, the Rattlesnake frigate left Spit- 
head, but toirched again at Plymouth to ship £65,000 of 
specie for the Cape. This delay was no pleasure to the 
young Huxley ; it only served to renew the pain of parting 
from home, so that, after writing a last letter to reassure 
his mother as to the comfort of his present quarters, he was 
glad to lose sight of the English coast on the nth. 

Madeira was reached on the i8th. On the 26th they 
sailed for Rio de Janeiro, where they stayed from January 23 
to February 2, 1847. Here Huxley had his first experience 
of tropical dredging in Botafago Bay, with Macgillivray, 
naturalist to the expedition. It was a memorable occasion, 
the more so, because in the absence of a sieve they were 
compelled to use their hands as strainers the first day. 
Happily the want was afterwards supplied by a meat cover. 
From the following letter it seems that several prizes of 
value were taken in the dredge : — 

Rio Janeiro, yij«. 24, 1847. 
My dear Mother — Four weeks of lovely weather and un- 
interrupted fair winds brought us to this southern fairyland. 
In my last letter I told you a considerable yarn about Madeira, 
I guess, and so for fear lest you should imagine me scenery 
mad I will spare you any description of Rio Harbour. Suffice 
it to say that it contends with the Bay of Naples for the title 
of the most beautiful place in the world. It must beat Naples 
in luxuriance and variety of vegetation, but from all accounts, 
to say nothing of George's * picture, falls behind it in the col- 
ours of sky and sea, that of the latter being in the harbour and 
for soipe distance outside of a dirty olive green like the wash- 
ings of a painter's palette. 

♦ His eldest brother. 


We have come in for the purpose of effecting some trifling 
repairs, which, though not essential to the safety of the ship, 
will nevertheless naturally enhance the comfort of its inmates. 
This you will understand when I tell you that in consequence 
of these same defects I have had water an inch or two deep in 
my cabin, wish-washing about ever since we left Madeira. 

We crossed the line on the 13th of this month, and as one 
of the uninitiated I went through the usual tomfoolery prac- 
tised on that occasion. The affair has been too often described 
for me to say anything about it. I had the good luck to be 
ducked and shaved early, and of course took particular care 
to do my best in serving out the unhappy beggars who had to 
follow. I enjoyed the fun well enough at the time, but unques- 
tionably it is on all grounds a most pernicious custom. It 
swelled our sick list to double the usual amount, and one poor 
fellow, I am sorry to say, died of the effects of pleurisy then 

We have been quite long enough at sea now to enable me to 
judge how I shall get on in the ship, and to form a very clear 
idea of how it fits me and how I fit it. In the first place I am 
exceedingly well and exceedingly contented with my lot. My 
opinion of the advantages lying open to me increases rather than 
otherwise as I see my way about me. I am on capital terms 
with all the superior ofHcers, and I find them ready to g^ve me 
all facilities. I have a place for my books and microscope in 
the chart room, and there I sit and read in the morning much 
as though I were in my rooms in Agar Street My immediate 
superior, Johnny Thompson, is a long-headed good fellow with- 
out a morsel of humbug about him — a man whom I thoroughly 
respect, both morally and intellectually. I think it will be my 
fault if we are not fast friends through the commission. One 
friend on board a ship is as much as anybody has a right to 

It is just the interval between the sea and the land breezes, 
the sea like glass, and not a breath stirring. I shall become 
soup if I do not go on deck. Temp, in sun at noon 86 in shade, 
139 in sun. N3, — It has been up to 89 in shade, 139 in sun 
since this. 

March 28. — I see I concluded with a statement of temp. 
Since then it has been considerably better — 140 in sun ; however, 
in the shade it rarely rises above 86 or so, and when the^sea or 
land breezes are blowing this is rather pleasant than otherwise. 

I have been ashore two or three times. The town is like 


most Portuguese towns, hot and stinking, the odours here being 
improved by a strong flavour of nigger from the slaves, of 
whom there is an immense number. They seem to do all the 
work, and their black skins shine in the sun as though they had 
been touched up with Warren, 30 Strand. They are mostly 
in capital condition, and on the whole look happier than the 
corresponding class in England, the manufacturing and agri- 
cultural poor, I mean. I have a much greater respect for them 
than for their beastly Portuguese masters, than whom there is 
not a more vile, ignorant, and besotted nation under the sun. 
I only regret that such a glorious country as this should be in 
such hands. Had Brazil been colonised by Englishmen, it would 
by this time have rivalled our Indian Empire. 

The naturalist Macgillivray and I have had several excur- 
sions under pretence of catching butterflies, etc. On the whole, 
however, I think we have been most successful in imbibing sherry 
cobbler, which you get here in great perfection. By the way, tell 

Cooke,* with my kindest regards, that is a lying old thief, 

many of the things he told me about Macgillivray, e,g,, being an 
ignoramus in natural history, etc. etc., having proved to be lies. 
He is at any rate a very good ornithologist, and, I can testify, 
is exceedingly zealous in his vocation as a collector. As in 

these (points) Mr. 's statements are unquestionably false, 

I must confess I feel greatly inclined to disbelieve his other 

March 29. — We sail hence on Sunday for the Cape, so I will 
finish up. If you have not already written to me at that place, 
direct your letters to H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Sydney (to wait 
arrival). We shall probably be at the Cape some weeks sur- 
veying, thence shall betake ourselves to the Mauritius, and 
leave a card on Paul and Virginia, thence on to Sydney; but it 
is of no use to direct to any place but the last. 

PS, — ^The Rattlesnakes are not idle. We shall most likely 
have something to say to the English savans before long. If I 
have any friz in the fire I will let you know. 

He gives a fuller account of this piece of work in a 
letter to his sister, dated Sydney, August i, 1847. The 
two papers in question, as appears from the l?riefest notice 
in the Proceedings of the Linfiean Society, ascribing them to 
WilKam ( !) Huxley, were read in 1849 • — 

♦ His brother-in-law. 


In my last letter I think I mentioned to you that I had 
worked out and sent home to the President of the Linnsan Soc., 
through Capt. Stanley, an account of Physalia, or Portuguese 
man-of-war as it is called, an animal whose structure and affini- 
ties had never been properly worked out. The careful investi- 
gation I made gave rise to several new ideas covering the whole 
class of animals to which this creature belongs, and these ideas 
I have had the good fortune to have had many opportunities of 
working out in the course of our subsequent wanderings, so that* 
I am provided with materials for a second paper far more con- 
siderable in extent, and embracing an altogether wider field. 
This second paper is now partly in esse — that is, written out — 
and partly in posse — ^that is, in my head; but I shall send it 
before leaving. Its title will be " Observations upon the Anato- 
my of the Diphydae, and upon the Unity of Organisation of the 
Diphydae and Physophoridae," and it will have lots of figures 
to illustrate it. Now when we return from the north I hope to 
have collected materials for a much bigger paper than either of 
these, and to which they will serve as steps. If my present 
anticipations turn out correct, this paper will achieve one of the 
great ends of Zoology and Anatomy, viz. the reduction of two 
or three apparently widely separated and incongruous groups 
into modifications of the single type, every step of the reasoning 
being based upon anatomical facts. There! Think yourself 
lucky you have only got that to read instead of the slight ab- 
stract of all. three papers with which I had some intention of 
favouring you.* 

But five years ago you threw a slipper after me for luck on 
my first examination, and I must have you to do it for every- 
tliing else. 

At the Cape a stay of a month was made, from March 6 
to April ID, and certain surveying work was done, after 
which the Rattlesnake sailed for Mauritius. In spite of the 
fact that the novelty of tropical scenery had worn off, the 
place made a deep impression. He writes to his mother, 
May 15, 1847:— 

After a long and somewhat rough passage from the Cape, we 
made the highland of the Isle of France on the afternoon of the 

♦ These papers arc to be found in vol. i. of the Scientific Memoirs of 
T. H. Huxley, p. 9. 


3rd of this month, and passing round the northern extremity of 
the island, were towed into Port Louis by the handsomest of tugs 
about noon on the 4th. In my former letter I have spoken to you 
of the beauty of the places we have visited, of the picturesque 
ruggedness of Madeira, the fine luxuriance of Rio, and the rude 
and simple grandeur of South Africa. Much of my admiration 
has doubtless arisen from the novelty of these tropical or semi- 
tropical scenes, and would be less vividly revived by a second 
visit. I have become in a manner blase with fine sights and 
something of a critic. All this is to lead you to believe that I 
have really some grounds for the raptures I am going into pres- 
ently about Mauritius. In truth it is a complete paradise, and 
if I had nothing better to do, I should pick up some pretty 
French Eve (and there are plenty) and turn Adam. N,B. There 
are no serpents in the island. 

This island is, you know, the scene of St. Pierre's beautiful 
story of Paul and Virginia, over which I suppose most people 
have sentimentalised at one time or another of their lives. Until 
we reached here I did not know that the tale was like the lady's 
improver — a fiction founded on fact, and that Paul and Virginia 
were at one time flesh and blood, and that their veritable dust 
was buried at Pamplemousses in a spot considered as one of the 
lions of the place, and visited as classic ground. Now, though 
I never was greatly given to the tender and sentimental, and 
have not had any tendencies that way greatly increased by the 
elegancies and courtesies of a midshipman's berth, — not to say 
that, as far as I recollect, Mdlle. Virginia was a bit of a prude, 
and M. Paul a pump, — yet were it but for old acquaintance sake, 
I determined on making a pilgrimage. Pamplemousses is a small 
village abou^ seven miles from Port Louis, and the road to it 
is lined by rows of tamarind trees, of cocoanut trees, and sugar- 
canes. I started early in the morning in order to avoid the great 
heat of the middle of the day, and having breakfasted at Port 
Louis, made an early couple of hours' walk of it, meeting on 
my way numbers of the coloured population hastening to market 
in all the varieties of their curious Hindoo costume. After some 
trouble I found my way to the " Tombeaux " as they call them. 
They are situated in a garden at the back of a house now in 
the possession of one Mr. Geary, an English mechanist, who 
puts up half the steam engines for the sugar mills in the island. 
The garden is now an utter wilderness, but still very beautiful ; 
round it runs a grassy path, and in the middle of the path on 
each side towards the further extremity of the garden is a 


funeral urn supported on a pedestal, and as dilapidated as the 
rest of the affair. These dilapidations, as usual, are the work 
of English visitors, relic-hunters, who are as shameless here 
as elsewhere. I was exceedingly pleased on the whole with my 
excursion, and when I returned I made a drawing of the place, 
which I will send some day or other. 

Since tliis I have made, in company with our purser and a 
passenger, Mr. King, a regular pedestrian trip to see some very 
beautiful falls up the country. 

Leaving Mauritius on May 17, they prolonged their 
voyage to Sydney by being requisitioned to take more 
specie to Hobart Town, so that Sydney was not reached 
until July 16, eight months since they had had news of 

The three months spent in this first visit to Sydney 
proved to be one of the most vital periods in the young 
surgeon's career. From boyhood up, vaguely conscious of 
unrest, of great powers within him working to find expres- 
sion, he had yet been to a certain extent driven in upon him- 
self. He had been somewhat isolated from those of his own 
age by his eagerness for problems about which they cared 
nothing ; and the tendency to solitude, the habit of outward 
reserve imposed upon an unusually warm nature, were 
intensified by the fact that he grew up in surroundings not 
wholly congenial. One member alone of his family felt 
with him that complete and vivid sympathy which is so 
necessary to the full development of such a nature. When 
he was fourteen this sister married and left home, but the 
bond between them was not broken. In some ways it was 
strengthened by the lad's love for her children ; by his grief, 
scarcely less than her own, at the death of her eldest little 
girl. Moreover they were brought into close companionship 
for a considerable time when, after his dismal period of 
apprenticeship at Rotherhithe — ^to which he could never 
look back without a shudder — he came to work under her 
husband. She had encouraged him in his studies; had 
urged him to work for the Botanical prize at Sydenham 
College; had brightened his life with her sympathy, and 
believed firmly in the brilliant future which awaited him — ^a 


belief which for her sake, if for nothing else, he was eager to 
justify by his best exertions. 

He had not had, so far, much opportunity of entering 
the social world ; but his visit to Sydney gave him an oppor- 
tunity of entering a good society to which his commission 
in the navy was a sufficient introduction. He was eager 
to find friendships if he could, for his reserve was anything 
but misanthropic. It was not long before he made the 
acquaintance of William Macleay, a naturalist of wide re- 
search and great speculative ability ; and struck up a close 
friendship with William Fanning, one of the leading 
merchants of the town, a friendship which was to have 
momentous consequences. For it was at Fanning's house 
that he met his future wife. Miss Henrietta Anne Heathom, 
for whom he was to serve longer and harder than Jacob 
thought to serve for Rachel, but who was to be his help 
and stay for forty years, in his struggles ready to counsel, 
in adversity to comfort ; the critic whose judgment he val- 
ued above almost any, and whose praise he cared most 
to win ; his first care and his latest thought, the other self, 
whose union with him was a supreme example of mutual 
sincerity and devotion. 

It was a case of love, if not actually at first sight, yet of 
very rapid growth when he came to learn the quiet strength 
and tenderness of her nature as displayed in the manage- 
ment of her sister's household. A certain simplicity and 
directness united with an unusual degree of cultivation, had 
attracted him from the first. She had been two years at 
school in Germany, and her knowledge of German and of 
German literature brought them together on common 
ground. Things ran very smoothly at the beginning, and 
the young couple, whose united ages amounted to forty- 
four years, became engaged. 

The marriage was to take place on his promotion to the 
rank of full surgeon — a promotion he hoped to attain speed- 
ily at the conclusion of the voyage on the strength of his 
scientific work, for this was the inducement held out by the 
Admiralty to energetic subalterns. The following letter to 
his sister describes the situation: — 



Sydney Harbour, March 21, 1848. 
... I have deferred writing to you in the hope of knowing 
something from yourself of your doings and whereabouts, and 
now that we are on the eve of departing for a long cruise in 
Torres Straits, I will no longer postpone the giving you some 
account of " was ist geschehen " on this side of the world. We 
spent three months in Sydney, and a gay three months of it we 
had, — nothing but balls and parties the whole time. In this 
corner of the universe, where men of war are rather scarce, 
even the old Rattlesnake is rather a lion, and her officers are 
esteemed accordingly. Besides, to tell you the truth, we are 
rather agreeable people than otherwise, and can manage to get up 
a very decent turn-out on board on occasion. What think you of 
your grave, scientific brother turning out a ball-goer and doing 
the " light fantastic " to a great extent ? It is a great fact, I 
assure you. But there is a method in my madness. I found it 
exceedingly disagreeable to come to a great place like Sydney 
and think there was not a soul who cared whether I was alive 
or dead, so I determined to go into what society was to be had 
and see if I could not pick up a friend or two among the multi- 
tude of the empty and frivolous. I am happy to say that I have 
had more success than I hoped for or deserved, and then as 
now, two or three houses where I can go and feel myself at 
home at all times. But my " home " in Sydney is the house of 
my good friend Mr. Fanning, one of the first merchants in the 
place. But thereby hangs a tale which, of all people in the 
world, I must tell you. Mrs. Fanning has a sister, and the dear 
little sister and I managed to fall in love with one another in 
the most absurd manner after seeing one another — I will not 
tell you how few times, lest you should laugh. Do you remem- 
ber how you used to talk to me about choosing a wife? Well, 
I think that my choice would justify even your fastidiousness. 
... I think you will understand how happy her love ought to 
and does make me. I fear that in this respect indeed the ad- 
vantage is on my side, for my present wandering life and uncer- 
tain position must necessarily give her many an anxious thought. 
Our future is indeed none of the clearest Three years at the 
very least must elapse before the Rattlesnake returns to Eng- 
land, and then unless I can write myself into my promotion or 
something else, we shall be just where we were. Nevertheless 
I have the strongest persuasion that four years hence I shall 
be married and settled in England. We shall see. 

1848 NEW TIES 41 

I am getting on capitally at present. Habit, inclination, and 
now a sense of duty keep me at work, and the nature of our 
cruise affords me opportunities such as none but a blind man 
would fail to make use of. I have sent two or three papers 
home already to be published, which I have great hopes will 
throw light upon some hitherto obscure branches of natucal his- 
tory, and I have just finished a more important one, which I 
intend to get read at the Royal Society. The other day I sub- 
mitted it to William Macleay (the celebrated propounder of the 
Quinary system), who has a beautiful place near Sydney, and, 
I hear, "werry much approves what I have done." All this 
goes to the comforting side of the question, and gives me hope 
of being able to follow out my favourite pursuits in course of 
time, without hindrance to what is now the main object of my 
life. I tell Netty to look to being a " Frau Professorin " one 
of these odd days, and she has faith, as I believe would have 
if I told her I was going to be Prime Minister. 

We go to the northward again about the 23rd of this month 
(April), and shall be away for ten or twelve months surveying 
in Torres Straits. I believe we are to refit in Port Essington, and 
that will be the only place approaching to civilisation that we 
shall see for the whole of that time; and after July or August 
next, when a provision ship is to come up to us, we shall not 
even get letters. I hope and trust I shall hear from you before 
then. Do not suppose that my new ties have made me forgetful 
of old ones. On tfie other hand, these are if anything strength- 
ened. Does not my dearest Nettie love you as I do ! and do I 
not often wish that you could see and love and esteem her as 
I know you would. We often talk about you, and I tell her 
stories of old times. 

Another letter, a year later, gives his mother the answers 
to a string of questions which, mother-like, she had asked 
him, thirsting for exact and minute information about her 
future daughter-in-law : — 

Sydney, Feb, i, 1849. 

(After describing how he had just come back from a nine 
months* cruise) — First and foremost, my dear mother, I must 
thank you for your very kind letter of September 1848. I read 
the greater part of it to Nettie, who was as much pleased as I 
with your kindly wishes towards both of us. Now I suppose I 
must do my best to answer your questions. First, as to age, 
Nettie is about three months younger than myself — that is the 


difference in our years, but she is in fact as much younger than 
her years as I am older than mine. Next, as to complexion she 
is exceedingly fair, with the Saxon yellow hair and blue eyes. 
Then as to face, I really don't know whether she is pretty or not. 
I have never been able to decide the matter in my own mind. 
Sometimes I think she is, and sometimes I wonder how the idea 
ever came into my head. Whether or not, her personal appear- 
ance has nothing whatever to do with the hold she has upon my 
mind, for I have seen hundreds of prettier women. But I never 
met with so sweet a temper, so self-sacrificing and affectionate a 
disposition, or so pure and womanly a mind, and from the per- 
fectly intimate footing on which I stand with her family I have 
plenty of opportunities of judging. As I tell her, the only great 
folly I am aware of her being guilty of was the leaving her 
happiness in the hands of a man like myself, struggling upwards 
and certain of nothing. 

As to my future intentions I can say very little about them. 
With my present income, of course, marriage is rather a bad look 
out, but I do not think it would be at all fair towards N. herself 
to leave this country without giving her a wife's claim upon 
me. ... It is very unlikely I shall ever remain in the colony. 
Nothing but a very favourable chance could induce me to 
do so. 

Much must depend upon how things go in England. If my 
various papers meet with any success, I may perhaps be able to 
leave the service. At present, however, I have not heard a word 
of an3rthing I have sent. Professor Forbes has, I believe, pub- 
lished some of MacGillivray's letters to him, but he has appar- 
ently forgotten to write to MacGillivray himself, or to me. So 
I shall certainly send him nothing more, especially as Mr. Mac- 
Leay (of this place, and a great man in the naturalist world) 
has offered to get anything of mine sent to the Zoological 

In the paper mentioned in the letter of March 21, above 
(" On the Anatomy and Affinities of the Family of the 
Medusae "), Huxley aimed at ** giving broad and general 
views of the whole class, considered as organised upon a 
given type, and inquiring into its relations with other fam- 
ilies," unlike previous observers whose patience and ability 
had been devoted rather to ** stating matters of detail con- 
cerning particular genera and species." At the outset, sec- 
tion 8 {Set. Mem,, i. 11), he states — 


I would wish to lay particular stress upon the composition of 
this (the stomach) and other organs of the Medusae out of two 
distinct membranes, as I believe that it is one of the essential 
peculiarities of their structure, and that a knowledge of the fact 
is of great importance in investigating their homologies. I will 
call these two membranes as such, and independently of any 
modifications into particular organs, ** foundation membranes." 

And in section 56 (p. 23) one of the general conclusions 
which he deduces from his observations, is 

That a Medusa consists essentially of two membranes in- 
closing a variously-shaped cavity, inasmuch as its various organs 
are so composed, 

a peculiarity shared by certain other families of zoophytes. 
This is the point which that eminent authority, Professor 
G. J. Allman, had in his mind when he wrote to call my 

to a fact which has been overlooked in all the notices I have 
seen, and which I regard as one of the greatest claims of his 
splendid work on the recognition of zoologists. I refer to his 
discovery that the body of the Medusae is essentially composed 
of two membranes, an outer and an inner, and his recognition of 
these as the homologues of the two primary germinal leaflets 
in the vertebrate embryo. Now this discovery stands at the very 
basis of a philosophic zoology, and of a true conception of the 
affinities of animals. It is the ground on which Hseckel has 
founded his famous Gastraea Theory, and without it Kowalesky 
could never have announced his great discovery of the affinity 
of the Ascidians and Vertebrates, by which zoologists had been 


The whole cruise of the Rattlesnake lasted almost pre- 
cisely four years, her stay in Australian waters nearly three. 
Of this time altogether eleven months were spent at Sydney, 
namely, July 16 to October 11, 1847; January 14 to Feb- 
ruary 2, and March 9 to April 29, 1848; January 24 to 
May 8, 1849; 2tnd February 14 to May 2, 1850. The three 
months of the first northern cruise were spent in the survey 
of the Inshore Passage — ^the passage, that is, within the 
Great Barrier Reef for ships proceeding from India to Syd- 
ney. In 1848, while waiting for the right season to visit 
Torres Straits, a short cruise was made in February and 
March, to inspect the lighthouses in Bass' Straits. It was 
on this occasion that Huxley visited Melbourne, then an 
insignificant town, before the discovery of gold had brought 
a rush of immigrants. 

The second northern cruise of 1848, which lasted nine 
months, had for its object the completion of the survey of 
the Inner Passage as far as New Guinea and the adjoining 
archipelago. The third cruise in 1849-50 again lasted nine 
months, and continued the survey in Torres Straits, the 
Louisiade archipelago, and the south-eastern part of New 
Guinea. After this the original plan was to make a fourth 
cruise, filling up the charts of the Inner Passage on the 
east coast, and surveying the straits of Alass between 
Lombok and Sumbawa in the Malay Archipelago; then, 
instead of returning to Sydney, to proceed to Singa- 
pore and so home by the Cape. But these plans were 



altered by the untimely death of Captain Stanley on 
March 13, and the Rattlesnake sailed for England direct 
in May 1850. 

There was a great monotony about these cruises, par- 
ticularly to those who were not constantly engaged in the 
active work of surveying. The ship sailed slowly from place 
to place, hunting out reefs and islets ; a stay of a few days 
would be made at some lonely island, while charting ex- 
peditions "Went out in the boats or supplies of water and 
fresh fruits were laid in. On the second expedition there 
were two cases of scurvy on board by the time the mail 
from Sydney reached the ship at Cape York with letters 
and lime-juice, the first reminder of civilisation for four 
months and a half. On this cruise there was an unusual 
piece of interest in Kennedy's ill-fated expedition, which 
the Rattlesnake landed in Rockingham Bay, and trusted 
to meet again at Cape York. Happy it was for Huxley that 
his duties forbade him to accept Kennedy's proposal to 
join the expedition. After months of weary struggles in 
the dense scrub, Kennedy himself, who had pushed on 
for help with his faithful black man Jacky, was speared 
by the natives when almost in sight of Cape York; Jack 
barely managed to make his way there through his 
enemies, and guided a party to the rescue of the two 
starved and exhausted survivors of the disease-stricken 
camp by the Sugarloaf Hill. It was barely time. An- 
other hour, and they too would have been killed by the 
crowd of blackfellows who hovered about in hopes of 
booty, and wer^ only dispersed for a moment by the res- 
cue party. 

On the third cruise there were a few adventures more 
directly touching the Rattlesnake. Twice the landing par- 
ties, including Huxley, were within an ace of coming to 
blows with the islanders of the Louisiades, and on one 
occasion a portly member of the gun-room, being cut off 
by these black gentry, only saved his life by parting with 
all his clothes as presents to them, and keeping them amused 
by an impromptu dance in a state of nature under the 
broiling sun, until a party came to his relief. At Cape 


York also, a white woman was rescued who had been made 
prisoner by the blacks from a wreck, and had lived among 
them for several years. Here, too, 'Huxley and MacGilli- 
vray made a trip inland, and were welcomed by a native 
chief, who saw in the former the returning spirit of his 
dead brother. 

Throughout the voyage Huxley was busy with his 
pencil, and many lithographs from his drawings illustrate 
the account of the voyage afterwards published. As to 
his scientific work, he was accumulating a large stock of 
observations, but felt rather sore about the papers which he 
had already sent home, for no word had reached him as to 
their fate, not even that they had been received or looked 
over by Forbes, to whom they had been consigned. As a 
matter of fact, they had not been neglected, as he was to 
find out on his return; but meanwhile the state of affairs 
was not reassuring to a man whose dearest hopes were 
bound up in the reception he could win for these and similar 
researches. Altogether, it was with no little joy that he 
turned his back on the sweltering heat of Torres Straits, 
on the great mountains of New Guinea, the Owen Stanley 
range, which had remained hidden from D'Urville in the 
Astrolabe to be discovered by the explorers on the Rattle- 
snake, and the far stretching archipelago of the Louisiades, 
one tiny island in which still bears the name of Huxley, 
after the assistant-surgeon of the Rattlesnake. 

A few extracts from letters of the time will give a more 
vivid idea of what the voyage was like. The first is from 
a letter to his mother, dated February i, 1849: — 

... I suppose you have wondered at the long intervals of 
my letters, but my silence has been forced. I wrote from Rock- 
ingham Bay in May, and from Cape York in October. After 
leaving the latter place we have had no communication with any 
one but the folks at Port Essington, which is a mere military 
post, without any certain means of communication with Eng- 
land. We were ten weeks on our passage from Port Essington 
to Sydney and touched nowhere, so that you may imagine we 
were pretty well tired of the sea by the time we reached Port 


Thank God we are now safely anchored in our old quarters, 
and for the next three months shall enjoy a few of those com- 
forts that make life worth the living. . . . 

The only place we have visited since my last budget to you 
was Port Essington, a military post which has been an object 
of much attention for some time past in connection with the 
steam navigation between Sydney and India. It is about the 
most useless, miserable, ill-managed hole in Her Majesty's do- 
minions. Placed fifteen miles inland on the swampy banks of 
an estuary out of reach of the sea breezes, it is the most insuffer- 
ably hot and enervating place imaginable. The temperature of 
the water alongside the ship was from 88 to 90, '%,e, about that 
of a moderately warm bath, so that you may fancy what it is 
on land. Added to this, the commandant is a litigious old fool, 
always at war with his officers, and endeavouring to make the 
place as much of a hell morally as it is physically. Little more 
than two years ago a detachment of sixty men came out to the 
settlement. At the parade on the Sunday I was there; there 
were just ten men present. The rest were invalided, dead, or 
sick. I have no hesitation in saying that half of this was the 
result of ill-management. The climate in itself is not par- 
ticularly unhealthy. We were all glad to get away from the 

Another is to his sister, under date Sydney, March 14, 

By the way, I may as well give you a short account of our 
cruise. We started from here last May to survey what is called 
the inner passage to India. You must know that the east coast 
of Australia has running parallel to it at distances of from five 
miles to seventy or eighty an almost continuous line of coral 
reefs, the Great Barrier as it is called. Outside this line is the 
great Pacific, inside is a space varying in width as above, and 
cut up by little islands and detached reefs. Now to get to India 
from Sydney, ships must go either inside or outside the Great 
Barrier. The inside passage has been called the Inner Route in 
consequence of its desirability for steamers, and our business 
has been to mark out this Inner Route safely and clearly among 
the labyrinth-like islands and reefs within the Barrier. And a 
parlous dull business it was for those who, like myself, had no 
necessary and constant occupation. Fancy for five mortal 
months shifting from patch to patch of white sand in latitude 


from 17 to 10 south, living on salt pork and beef, and seeing 
no mortal face but our own sweet countenances considerably 
obscured by the long beard and moustaches with which, partly 
from laziness and partly from comfort, we had become adorned. 
I cultivated a peak in Charles I. style, which imparted a re- 
markably peculiar and triste expression to my sunburnt phiz, 
heightened by the fact that the aforesaid beard was, I regret 
to say it, of a very questionable auburn — my messmates called 
it red. 

We convoyed a land expedition as far as the Rockingham 
Bay in 17 south under a Mr. Kennedy, which was to work its 
way up to Cape York in 11 south and there meet us. A fine 
noble fellow poor Kennedy was too. I was a good deal with 
him at Rockingham Bay, and indeed accompanied him in the 
exploring trips which he made for some four or five days in 
order to see how the land lay about him. In fact we got on so 
well together that he wanted me much to accompany him and 
join the ship again at Cape York, and if the Service would have 
permitted of my absence I should certainly have done so. But 
it was well I did not. Out of thirteen men composing the party 
but three remain alive. The rest have perished by starvation 
or the spears of the natives. Poor Kennedy himself had, in 
company with the black fellow attached to the party, by dint of 
incredible exertions, pushed on until he came within sight of 
the provision vessel waiting his arrival at Cape York. But 
here, within grasp of his object, a large party of natives attacked 
and killed him. The black fellow alone reached Cape York 
with the news. The other two men who were saved were the 
sole survivors of the party Kennedy left behind him at a spot 
near the coast, and were picked up by the provision vessel when 
she returned. 

You may be sure I am not sorry to return home. I say home 
advisedly, for my friend Fanning's house is as completely my 
home as it well can be. And then Nettie had not heard anything 
of me for six months, so that I have been petted and spoiled 
ever since we came in. ... As I tell her I fear she has rested 
her happiness on a very insecure foundation; but she is full of 
hope and confidence, and to me her love is the faith that moveth 
mountains. We have, as you may be sure, a thousand difficul- 
ties in our way, but like Danton I take for my motto, " De 
Taudace et encore de Taudace et tou jours de Taudace," and look 
forward to a happy termination, nothing doubting. 


To HIS Mother 
(Announcing the probable time of his return). 

Sydney, Feb, 11, 1850. 

I cannot at all realise the idea of our return. We have been 
leading such a semi-savage life for years past, such a wandering 
nomadic existence, that any other seems in a manner unnatural 
to me. Time was when I should have looked upon our return 
with unmixed joy ; but so many new and strong ties have arisen 
to unite me with Sydney, that now when the anchor is getting 
up for England, I scarcely know whether to rejoice or to grieve. 
You must not be angry, my dear Mother; I have none the less 
affection for you or any other of those whom I love in England 
—only a very great deal for a certain little lassie whom I must 
leave behind me without clearly seeing when we are to meet 
again. You must remember the Scripture as my excuse, "A 
man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his" (I 
wish I could add) wife. Our long cruises are fine times for 
reflection, and during the last I determined that we would be 
terribly prudent and get married about 1870, or the Greek 
Kalends, or, what is about the same thing, whenever I am 
afflicted with the malheur de richesses. 

People talk about the satisfaction of an approving con- 
science. Mine approves me intensely; but I'll be hanged if I see 
the satisfaction of it. I feel much more inclined to swear 
" worse than our armies in Flanders." ... So far as my private 
doings are concerned, I hear very satisfactory news of them. 
I heard from an old messmate of mine at Haslar the other day 
that Dr. Mac William, F.R.S., one of our deputy-inspectors, had 
been talking about one of my papers, and gave him to under- 
stand that it was to be printed. Furthermore, he is a great 
advocate for the claims of assistant surgeons to ward-room 
rank, and all that sort of stuff, and, I am told, quoted me as an 
example! Henceforward I look upon the learned doctor as a 
man of sound sense and discrimination ! Without joking, how- 
ever, I am glad to have come under his notice, as he may be of 
essential use to me. I find myself getting horribly selfish, look- 
ing at everything with regard to the influence it may have on 
my grand objects. 

Further descriptions of the voyage are to be drawn from 
an article in the Westminster Review for January 1854 



(vol. v.), in which, under the title of " Science at Sea," Hux- 
ley reviewed the Voyage of the Rattlesnake by MacGillivray, 
the naturalist to the expedition, which had recently ap- 
peared. This book gave very few descriptions of the inci- 
dents and life on board, and so drew in many ways a col- 
ourless picture of the expedition. This defect the reviewer 
sought to remedy by giving extracts from the so-called 
" unpublished correspondence " of one of the officers — 
sketches apparently written for the occasion — ^as well as 
from an equally unpublished but more real journal kept by 
the same hand. 

The description of the ship herself, of her inadequate 
equipment for the special purposes she was to carry out, of 
the officers' quiet contempt of scientific pursuits, which not 
even the captain's influence was able to subdue, of the 
illusory promises of help and advancement held out by the 
Admiralty to young investigators, makes a striking foil to 
the spirit in which the Government of thirty years later 
undertook a greater scientific expedition. Perhaps some 
vivid recollections of this voyage did something to better the 
conditions under which the later investigators worked. 

Thus, p. lOo: 

In the year 1846, Captain Owen Stanley, a young and zeal- 
ous officer, of good report for his capabilities as a scientific 
surveyor, was entrusted with the command of the Rattlesnake, 
a vessel of six-and-twenty guns, strong and seaworthy, but one 
of that class unenviably distinguished in the war-time as a 
** donkey-frigate." To the laity it would seem that a ship jour- 
neying to unknown regions, when the lives of a couple of hun- 
dred men may, at any moment, depend upon her handiness in 
going about, so as to avoid any suddenly discovered danger, 
should possess the best possible sailing powers. The Admiralty, 
however, makes its selection upon other principles, and explor- 
ing vessels will be invariably found to be the slowest, clumsiest, 
and in every respect the most inconvenient ships which wear 
the pennant. In accordance with the rule, such was the Rattle- 
snake; and to carry out the spirit of the authorities more com- 
pletely, she was turned out of Portsmouth dockyard in such a 
disgraceful state of unfitness, that her lower deck was con- 
tinually under water during the voyage. 


Again, p. 100 : 

It is necessary to be provided with books of reference, which 
are ruinously expensive to a private individual, though a mere 
dewdrop in the general cost of the fitting out of a ship, espe- 
cially as they might be kept in store, and returned at the end of 
a commission, like other stores. A hundred pounds would have 
well supplied the Rattlesnake; but she sailed without a volume, 
an application made by her captain not having been attended to. 

P. 103: 

Of all those who were actively engaged upon the survey, the 
young commander alone was destined by inevitable fate to be 
robbed of his just reward. Care and anxiety, from the mobility 
of his temperament, sat not so lightly upon him as they might 
have done, and this, joined to the physical debility produced by 
the enervating climate of New Guinea, fairly wore him out, 
making him prematurely old before much more than half of 
the allotted span was completed. But he died in harness, the end 
attained, the work that lay before him honourably done. Which 
of us may dare to ask for more? He has raised an enduring 
monument in his works, and his epitaph shall be the grateful 
thanks of many a mariner threading his way among the mazes 
of the Coral Sea. 

P. 104: 

The world enclosed within the timj)ers of a man-of-war is a 
most remarkable community, hardly to be rendered vividly 
intelligible to the mere landsman in diese days of constitutional 
government and freedom of the press. 

Then follows a vigorous sketch of sea life from Cha- 
misso, suggesting that the type of one's relation to the cap- 
tain is to be found in Jean Paul's Biography of the Twins, 
who were united back to back. This sketch Huxley en- 
forces by a passage from the imaginary journal aforesaid, 
" indited apparently when the chains were yet new and 
somewhat galled the writer," to judge from which "little 
alteration would seem to have taken place in nautical life " 
since Chamisso's voyage, thirty years before. 

You tell me (he writes), that you sigh for my life of freedom 
and adventure ; and that, compared with mine, the conventional 
monotony of your own stinks in your nostrils. My dear fellow. 



be patient, and listen to what I have to say; you will then, per- 
haps, be a little more content with your lot in life, and a little 
less desirous of mine. Of all extant lives, that on board a ship- 
of- war is the most artificial — ^whether necessarily so or not is a 
question I will not undertake to decide; but the fact is indubi- 

How utterly disgusted you get with one another! Little 
peculiarities which would give a certain charm and variety to 
social intercourse under any other circumstances, become 
sources of absolute pain, and almost uncontrollable irritation, 
when you are shut up with them day and night One good 
friend and messmate of mine has a peculiar laugh, whose itera- 
tion on our last cruise nearly drove me insane. 

There is no being alone in a ship. Sailors are essentially 
gregarious animals, and don't at all understand the necessity 
under which many people labour — I among the rest— of having 
a little solitary converse with oneself occasionally. 

Then, to a landsman fresh from ordinary society and its 
peculiarly undemonstrative ways, there is something very won- 
derful about naval discipline. I do not mean to say that the 
subordination kept up is more than is necessary, nor perhaps is 
it in reality greater than is to be found in a college, or a regi- 
ment, or a large mercantile house; but it is made so very ob- 
vious. You not only feel the bit, but you see it; and your 
bridle is hung with bells to tell you of its presence. 

Your captain is a very different person, in relation to his 
officers, from the colonel of a regiment; he is a demi-god, a 
Dalai lama, living in solitary state; sublime, unapproachable; 
and the radiation of his dignity stretches through all the other 
members of the nautical hierarchy; hence all sorts of petty 
intrigues, disputes, grumblings, and jealousies, which, to the 
irreverent eye of an "idler," give to the whole little society 
the aspect of nothing so much as the court of Prinz Irenaeus in 
Kater Murr's inestimable autobiography. 

P. 107 sq. : 

After describing the illusory promises of the Admiralty 
and their grudging spirit towards the scientific members of 
the expedition, he continues : — 

Tliese are the facilities and encouragement to science 
afforded by the Admiralty; and it cannot be wondered at if 
the same spirit runs through its subordinate officers. 


Not that there is any active opposition— quite the reverse. 
But it is a curious fact, that if you want a boat for dredging, ten 
chances to one they are always actually or potentially otherwise 
disposed of; if you leave your towing-net trailing astern in 
search of new creatures, in some promising patch of discoloured 
water, it is, in all probability, found to have a wonderful effect 
in stopping the ship's way, and is hauled in as soon as your back 
is turned; or a careful dissection waiting to be drawn may find 
its way overboard as a " mess." 

The singular disrespect with which the majority of naval 
officers regard everything that lies beyond the sphere of routine, 
tends to produce a tone of feeling very unfavourable to scientific 
exertions. How can it be otherwise, in fact, with men who, 
from the age of thirteen, meet with no influence but that which 
teaches them that the ''Queen's regulations and instructions" 
are the law and the prophets, and something more ? 

It may be said, without fear of contradiction, that in time of 
peace the only vessels which are engaged in services involving 
any real hardship or danger are those employed upon the various 
surveys ; and yet the men of easy routine — iiarbour heroes — ^the 
officers of regular men-of-war, as they delight to be called, pre- 
tend to think surveying a kind of shirking — in sea-phrase, 
" sloping." It is to be regretted that the officers of the survey- 
ing vessels themselves are too often imbued with the same 
spirit; and though, for shame's sake, they can but stand up for 
'hydrography, they are too apt to think an alliance with other 
branches of science as beneath the dignity of their divinity — the 
" Service." 

P. 112: 

Any adventures ashore were mere oases, separated by whole 
deserts of the most wearisome ennui. For weeks, perhaps, those 
who were not fortunate enough to be living hard and getting 
fatigued every day in the boats were yawning away their exist- 
ence in an atmosphere only comparable to that of an orchid- 
house, a life in view of which that of Mariana in the moated 
grange has its attractions. 

For instance, consider this extract from the journal of one 
of the officers, date August 1849: — 

" Rain ! rain ! encore et toujours — I wonder if it is possible 
tor the mind of man to conceive anything more degradingly 
offensive than the condition of us 150 men, shut up in this 
wooden box, and being watered with hot water, as we are now. 


It is no exaggeration to say hot, for the temperature is that at 
which people at home commonly take a hot bath. It rains so 
hard that we have caught seven tons of water in one day, and 
it is therefore impossible to go on deck, though, if one did, one's 
condition would not be much improved. A hot Scotch mist 
covers the sea and hides the land, so that no surveying can be 
done; moving about in the slightest degree causes a flood of 
perspiration to pour out; all energy is completely gone, and if 
I could help it I would not think even ; it's too hot. The rain . 
awnings are spread, and we can have no wind sails up; if we 
could, there is not a breath of wind to fill them; and conse- 
quently the lower and main decks are utterly unventilated : a 
sort of solution of man in steam fills them from end to end, and 
surrounds the lights with a lurid halo. It's too hot to sleep, 
and my sole amusement consists in watching the cockroaches, 
which are in a state of intense excitement and happiness. They 
manifest these feelings in a very remarkable manner — a sudden 
unanimous impulse seems to seize the obscene thousands which 
usually lurk hidden in the corners of my cabin. Out they rush, 
helter-skelter, and run over me, my table, and my desk ; others, 
more vigorous, fly, quite regardless of consequences, until they 
hit against something, upon which, half spreading their wings, 
they make their heads a pivot and spin round in a circle, in a 
manner which indicates a temporary aberration of the cock- 
roach mind. It is these outbreaks alone which rouse us from 
our lassitude. Knocks are heard resounding on all sides, and 
each inhabitant of a cabin, armed with a slipper, is seen taking 
ample revenge upon the disturbers of his rest and the destroyers 
of his body and clothes." 

Here, on the other hand, is an oasis, a bartering scene at 
Bruny Island, in the Louisiade: — 

" We landed at the same place as before, and this time the 
natives ran down prancing and gesticulating. Many of them 
had garlands of green leaves round their heads, knees, and 
ankles; some wore long streamers depending from their arms 
and ears and floating in the wind as they galloped along, shak- 
ing their spears and prancing just as boys do when playing at 
horses. They soon surrounded us, shouting * Kelumai ! Ke- 
lumai!' (their word for iron), and offering us all sorts of 
things in exchange. One very fine athletic man, * Kai-oo-why- 
who-at' by name, was perfectly mad to get an axe, and very 
soon comprehended the arrangements that were made. Mr. 
Brady drew ten lines on the sand and laid an axe down by them, 


giving K (I really can't write that long name all over 

again) to understand by signs that when there was a *bahar' 
(yam) on every mark he should have the axe. He compre- 
hended directly, and bolted off as fast as he could run, soon 
returning with his hands full of yams, which he deposited one 
by one on the appropriate lines; then fearful lest some of the 
others should do him out of the axe, he caught hold of Brady 
by the arm, and would not let him go until yams enough had 
been brought by the others to make up the number, and the axe 
was handed over to him. 

" Then was there a yell of delight ! He jumped up with the 
axe, flourished it, passed it to his companions, tumbled down 
and rolled over, kicking up his heels in the air, and finally, catch- 
ing hold of me, we had a grand waltz, with various poses 
plastiques, for about a quarter of a mile. I daresay he was un- 
sophisticated enough to imagine that I was filled with sym- 
pathetic joy, but I grieve to say that I was taking care all the 
while to direct his steps towards the village, which, as we had 
as yet examined none of their houses, I was most desirous of 
entering under my friend's sanction. I think he suspected some- 
thing, for he looked at me rather dubiously when I directed 
our steps towards the entrance in the bush which led to the 
houses, and wanted me to go back; but I was urgent, so he 
gave way, and we both entered the open space, where we were 
joined by two or three others, and sat down under a cocoa- 
nut tree. 

" I persuaded him to sit for his portrait (taking care first 
that my back was against the tree and my pistols handy), and 
we ate green cocoanuts together, at last attaining to so great a 
pitch of intimacy that he made me change names with him, 
calling himself * Tamoo ' (my Cape York name), and giving me 
to understand that I wa^ to take his own lengthy appellation. 
When I did so, and talked to him as ' Tamoo,* nothing could 
exceed the delight of all around; they patted me as you would 
a child, and evidently said to one another, * This really seems 
to be a very intelligent white fellow.' 

" Like the Cape York natives, they were immensely curious 
to look at one's legs, asking permission, very gently but very 
pressingly, to pull up the trouser, spanning the calf with their 
hands, drawing in their breath and making big eyes all the 
while. Once, when the front of my shirt blew open, and they 
saw the white skin of my chest, they set up an universal shout. 
I imagine that as they paint their faces black, they fancied that 


we ingeniously coloured ours white, and were astonished to 
see that we were really of that (to them) disgusting tint all 

On May 2, 1850, the Rattlesnake sailed for the last time 
out of Sydney harbour, bound for England by way of the 
Horn. In spite of his cheerful anticipations, Huxley was 
not to see his future wife again for five years more, when he 
was at length in a position to bid her come and join him. 
During the three years of their engagement in Australia, 
they had at least been able to see each other at intervals, 
and to be together for months at a time. In the long 
periods of absence, also, they had invented a device to cheat 
the sense of separation. Each kept a particular journal, to 
be exchanged when they met again, and only to be read, 
day by day, during the next voyage. But now it was 
very different, their only means of communication being the 
slow agency of the post, beset with endless possibilities of 
misunderstanding when it brought belated answers to ques- 
tions already months old and out of date in the changed 
aspect of circumstances. These perils, however, they 
weathered, and it proves how deep in the moral nature of 
each the bond between them was rooted, that in the end 
they passed safely through the still greater danger of im- 
perceptibly growing estranged from one another under the 
influences of such utterly different surroundings. 

A kindly storm which forced the old ship to put into 
the Bay of Islands to repair a number of small leaks that 
rendered the lower deck uninhabitable, made it possible for 
Huxley to send back a l^ter that should reach Australia 
in one month instead of ten after his departure. 

He utilized a week's stay here characteristically enough 
in an expedition to Waimate, the chief missionary station 
and the school of the native institutions (a sort of Normal 
School for native teachers), in order to judge of his own 
inspection what missionary life was like. 

I have been greatly surprised in these good people (he 
writes). I had expected a good deal of straight-hairedness (if 
you understand the phrase) and methodistical puritanism, but 
I find it quite otherwise. Both Mr. and Mrs. Burrows seem 



very quiet and unpretending — straightforward folks desirous of 
doing their best for the people among whom they are placed. 

One touch must not be allowed to pass unnoticed in 
his appreciation of the missionaries' unstudied welcome to 
the belated travellers, whose proper host was unable to take 
them in : — " tea unlimited and a blazing fire, together with 
a very nice cat.*' 

By July 12, midwinter of course in the southern hemi- 
sphere, they had rounded the Horn, and Huxley writes f'-om 
that most desolate of British possessions, the Falkland 
Islands : — 

I have great hopes of being able to send a letter to you, rta 
California, even from this remote corner of the world. It is the 
Ultima Thule and no mistake. Fancy two good-sized islands 
with undulated surface and sometimes elevated hills, but with- 
out tree or bush as tall as a man. When we arrived the 8th 
inst. the barren uniformity was rendered still more obvious by 
the deep coating of snow which enveloped everything. How 
can I describe to you " Stanley," the sole town, metropolis, and 
seat of government ? It consists of a lot of black, low, weather- 
board houses scattered along the hillsides which rise round the 
harbour. One barnlike place is Government House, another the 
pensioners' barracks, rendered imposing by four field-pieces in 
front ; others smaller are the residences of the colonel, surgeon, 
etc. In one particularly black and unpromising-looking house 
lives a Mrs. Sullivan (sic) the wife of Captain Sullivan,* who 
surveyed these islands, and has settled out here. I asked myself 
if I could have had the heart to bring you to such a desolate 
place, and myself said " No." However, I believe she is very 
happy with her children. Sullivan is a fine energetic man, so 
I suppose if she loves him, well and good, and fancies (is she 
not a silly woman?) that she has her reward. Mrs. Stanley 
has gone to stay with them while the ship remains here, and I 

* Captain Sullivan, who sailed with Darwin in the Beagle^ and 
served with great distinction in command of the southern division of 
the' fleet in the battle of Obligado (Plate River), had surveyed the Falk- 
land Islands many years before his temporary settlement there. Dur- 
ing the Crimean War he was sun^eying oflicer to the Baltic fleet, and 
afterwards naval adviser to the Board of Trade. He was afterwards 
Admiral and K.C.B. 


think I shall go and look them up under pretence of making a 
call. They say that the present winter is far more savage than 
the generality of Falkland Island winters, and it had need be, 
for I never felt anything so bitterly cold in my life. The ther- 
mometer has been down below 22, and shallow parts of the har- 
bour even have frozen. Nothing to be done ashore. My rifle 
lies idle in its case; no chance of a shot at a bull, and one has to 
go away 20 miles to get hold even of the upland geese and 
rabbits. The only thing to be done is to eat, eat, eat, and the 
cold assists one wonderfully in that operation. You consume 
a pound or so of beefsteaks at breakfast and then walk the 
deck for an appetite at dinner, when you take another pound or 
two of beef or a goose, or some such trifle. By four o'clock it 
is dark night, and as it is too cold to read the only thing to be 
done is to vanish under blankets as soon as possible and take 
twelve or fourteen hours' sleep. 

Mrs. Stanley's Bougirigards,* which I have taken under my 
care during the cold weather, admire this sort of thing exceed- 
ingly and thrive under it, so I suppose I ought to. 

The journey from New Zealand here has been upon the 
whole favourable; no gales— quite the reverse — but light vari- 
able winds and calms. The latter part of our voyage has, how- 
ever, been very cold, snow falling in abundance, and the ice 
forming great stalactites about our bows. We have seen no 
icebergs nor anything remarkable. From all I can learn it is 
most probable that we shall leave in about a week and shall go 
direct to England without stopping at any other port. I wish 
it may be so. I want to get home and look about me. 

We have had news up to the end of March. There is noth- 
ing of any importance going on. By the Navy list for April I 
see that I shall be as nearly as possible in the middle of those 
of my own rank, i.e, I shall have about 150 above and as many 
below me. This is about what I ought to expect in the ordinary 
run of promotion in eight years, and I have served four and a 
half of that time. I don't expect much in the way of promotion, 
especially in these economic times; but I do not fear that I 
shall be able to keep me in England for at least a year after 
our arrival, in order to publish my papers. The Admiralty 
have quite recently published a distinct declaration that they 
will consider scientific attainments as a claim to their notice, 
and I expect to be the first to remind them of their promise, and 

♦ The Australian love-bird ; a small parrakeet. 


I will take care to have the reminder so backed that they must 
and shall take note of it. Even if they will not promote me at 
once, it would answer our purpose to have an appointment to 
some ship on the home station for a short time. 

The last of the Falklands was seen on July 25; the 
line was crossed in thirty-six days; another month, and 
water running short, it was found necessary to put in at 
the Azores for a week. Leaving Fayal on October 5, the 
Rattlesnake reached Plymouth on the 23rd, but next day 
proceeded to Chatham, which, thanks to bafHing winds, 
was not reached till November 9, when the ship was paid 



In the Huxley Lecture for 1898 (Times, October 4) Pro- 
fessor Virchow takes occasion to speak of the effect of 
Huxley's service in the Rattlesnake upon his intellectual de- 
velopment : — 

When Huxley himself left Charing Cross Hospital in 1846. 
he had enjoyed a rich measure of instruction in anatomy and 
physiology. Thus trained, he took the post of naval surgeon, 
and by the time that he returned, four years later, he had 
become a perfect zoologist and a keen-sighted ethnologist. How 
this was possible any one will readily understand who knows 
from his own experience how great the value of personal ob- 
servation is for the development of independent and unpreju- 
diced thought For a young man who, besides collecting a rich 
treasure of positive knowledge, has practised dissection and 
the exercise of a critical judgment, a long sea-voyage and a 
peaceful sojourn among entirely new surroundings afford an in- 
valuable opportunity for original work and deep reflection. 
Freed from the formalism of the schools, thrown upon the use 
of his own intellect, compelled to test each single object as 
regards properties and history, he soon forgets the dogmas of 
the prevailing system and becomes, first a sceptic, and then an 
investigator. This change, which did not fail to affect Huxley, 
and through which arose that Huxley whom we commemorate 
to-day, is no unknown occurrence to one who is acquainted with 
the history, not only of knowledge, but also of scholars. 

But he was not destined to find his subsequent path 
easy. Once in England, indeed, he did not lose any time. 
No sooner had the Rattlesnake touched at Plymouth than 


Commander Yule, who had succeeded Captain Stanley in 
the command of the ship, wrote to the head of the Naval 
Medical Department stating the circumstances under which 
Huxley's zoological investigations had been undertaken, and 
asking the sanction of the Admiralty for their publication. 
The hydrographer, in sending the formal permission, says : — 

But I have to add that their Lordships will not allow any 
charge to be made upon the public funds towards the expense. 
You will, however, further assure Mr. Huxley that any assist- 
ance that can be supplied from this office shall be most cheer- 
fully given to him, and that I heartily hope, from the capacity 
and taste for scientific investigation for which you give him 
credit, that he will produce a work alike creditable to himself, 
to his late Captain, by whom he was selected for it, and to Her 
Majesty's service. 

Personally, the hydrographer took a great interest in 
science ; but as for the department, Huxley somewhat bit- 
terly interpreted the official meaning of this well-sounding 
flourish to be made : " Publish if you can, and give us credit 
for granting every facility except the one means of pub- 

Happily there was another way of publishing, if the 
Admiralty would grant him time to arrange his papers and 
superintend their publication. The Royal Society had at 
their disposal an annual grant of money for the publication 
of scientific works. If the Government would not con- 
tribute directly to publish the researches made under their 
auspices, the favourable reception which his preliminary 
papers had met with led Huxley to hope that his greater 
work would be undertaken by the Royal Society. If the 
leading men of science attested the value of his work, the 
Admiralty might be induced to let him stay in England with 
the nominal appointment as assistant surgeon to H.M.S. 
Fisguard at Woolwich, for " particular service," but with 
leave of absence from the ship so that he could live and 
pursue his avocations in London. There was a precedent 
for this course in the case of Dr. Hooker, when he had to 
work out the scientific results of the voyage of the Erebus 
and Terror. 


In this design he was fortified by his old Haslar friend, 
Dr. (afterwards Sir John) Watt Reid, who wrote : " They 
cannot, and, I am sure, will not wish to stand in your way 
at Whitehall." Meanwhile, the first person, naturally, he 
had thought of consulting was his old chief. Sir John 
Richardson, who had g^eat weight at the Admiralty, and to 
him he wrote the following letter before leaving Plymouth. 

To Sir John Richardson 

(?<•/. 31, 1850. 

I regret very much that in consequence of our being ordered 
to be paid oflf at Chatham, instead of Portsmouth, as we always 
hoped and expected, I shall be unable to submit to your inspec- 
tion the zoological notes and drawings which I have made dur- 
ing our cruise. They are somewhat numerous (over 180 sheets 
of drawings), and I hope not altogether valueless, since they 
have been made with as great care and attention as I am master 
of — and with a microscope, such as has rarely, if ever, made a 
voyage round the world before. A further reason for indulging 
in this hope consists in the fact that they relate for the most 
part to animals hitherto very little known, whether from their 
rarity or from their perishable nature, and that they bear upon 
many curious physiological points. 

I may thus classify and enumerate the observations I have 
made — 

1. Upon the organs of hearing and circulation in some of the 
transparent Crustacea, and upon the structure of certain of the 
lower forms of Crustacea. 

2. Upon some very remarkable new forms of Annelids, and 
especially upon the much contested genus Sagitta, which I have 
evidence to show is neither a Mollusc nor an Epizoon, but an 

3. Upon the nervous system of certain Mollusca hitherto im- 
perfectly described — upon what appears to me to be an urinary 
organ in many of them — ^and upon the structure of Firola and 
Atlanta, of which latter I have a pretty complete account. 

4. Upon two perfectly new (ordinally new) species of 

5. Upon Pyrosoma and Salpa. The former has never been 
described (I think) since Savigny's time, and he had only speci- 
mens preserved in spirits. I have a great deal to add and alter. 


Then as to Salpa, whose mode of generation has always been 
so great a bone of contention, I have a long series of observa- 
tions and drawings which I have verified over and over again, 
and which, if correct, must give rise to quite a new view of the 
matter. I may mention as an interesting fact that in these 
animals so low in the scale I have found a placental circulation, 
rudimentary indeed, but nevertheless a perfect model on a small 
scale of that which takes place in the mammalia. 

6. I have the materials for a monograph upon the Acalephae 
and Hydrostatic Acalephae. I have examined very carefully more 
than forty genera of these animals — many of them very rare, and 
some quite new. But I paid comparatively little attention to the 
collection of new species, caring rather to come to some clear 
and definite idea as to the structure of those which had indeed 
been long known, but very little understood. Unfortunately for 
science, but fortunately for me, this method appears to have been 
somewhat novel with observers of these animals, and conse- 
quently everywhere new and remarkable facts were to be had 
for the picking up. 

It is not to be supposed that one could occupy one's self with 
the animals for so long without coming to some conclusion as to 
their systematic place, however subsidiary to observation such 
considerations must always be regarded, and it seems to me 
(although on such matters I can of course only speak with 
the greatest hesitation) that just as the more minute and careful 
observations made upon the old " Vermes " of Linnaeus neces- 
sitated the breaking up of that class into several very distinct 
classes, so more careful investigation requires the breaking up 
of Cuvier's " Radiata " (which succeeded the " Vermes " as a 
sort of zoological lumber-room) into several very distinct and 
well-defined new classes, of which the Acalephae, Hydrostatic 
Acalephae, actinoid and hydroid polypes, will form one. But I 
fear that I am trespassing beyond the limits of a letter. I have 
only wished to state what I have done in order that you may 
judge concerning the propriety or impropriety of what I propose 
to do. And I trust that you will not think that I am presuming 
too much upon your kindness if I take the liberty of thus asking 
your advice about my own affairs. In truth, I feel in a manner 
responsible to you for the use of the appointment you procured 
for me; and furthermore, Capt. Stanley's unfortunate decease 
has left the interests of the ship in general and my own in par- 
ticular without a representative. 

Can you inform me, then, what chance I should have either 


(i) of procuring a grant for the publication of my papers, or 
(2) should that not be feasible, to obtain a nominal appointment 
(say to the Fis guard at Woolwich, as in Dr. Hooker's case) for 
such time as might be requisite for the publication of my papers 
and drawings in some other way ? 

I shall see Professors Owen and Forbes when I reach Lon- 
don, and I have a letter of introduction to Sir John Herschel 
(who has, I hear, a great penchant for the towing-net). Sup- 
posing I could do so, would it be of any use to procure recom- 
mendations from them that my papers should be published? 

[(Half-erased) To Sir F. Beaufort also I have a letter.] 
Would it not be proper also to write to Sir W. Burnett acquaint- 
ing him with my views, and requesting his acquiescence and 
assistance ? 

Begging an answer at your earliest convenience, addressed 
either to the Rattlesnake or to my brother, I remain, your 
obedient servant, T. H. Huxley. 

41 North Bank. 

He received a most friendly reply from ** Old John." 
He was willing to do all in his power to help, but could 
recommend Government aid better if he had seen the draw- 
ings. Meantime a certificate should be got from Forbes, 
the best man in this particular branch of science, backed, if 
possible, by Owen. He would speak to some officials him- 
self, and give Huxley introductions to others, and if he 
could get up to town, would try to see the collections and 
add his name to the certificate. 

Both Forbes and Owen were ready to help. The former 
wrote a most encouraging letter, singling out the character- 
istics which gave a peculiar value to these papers : — 

I have had very great pleasure in examining your drawings 
of animals observed during the voyage of the Rattlesnake, and 
have also fully availed myself of the opportunity of going over 
the collections made during the course of the survey upon which 
you have been engaged. I can say without exaggeration that 
more important or more complete zoological researches have 
never been conducted during any voyage of discovery in the 
southern hemisphere. The course you have taken of directing 
your attention mainly to impreservable creatures, and to those 
orders of the animal kingdom respecting which we have least 


information, and the care and skill with which you have con- 
ducted elaborate dissections and microscopic examinations of 
the curious creatures you were so fortunate as to meet with, 
necessarily gives a peculiar and unique character to your re- 
searches, since thereby they fill up gaps in our knowledge of 
the animal kingdom. This is the more important, since such 
researches have been almost always neglected during voyages of 
discovery. The value of some of your notes was publicly ac- 
knowledged during your absence, when your memoir on the 
structure of the Medusae, communicated to the Royal Society, 
was singled out for publication in the Philosophical Transac- 
tions. It would be a very great loss to science if the mass of 
new matter and fresh observation which you have accumulated 
were not to be worked out and fully published, as well as an 
injustice to the merits of the expedition in which you have 

The latter offered to write to the Admiralty on his behalf, 
giving the weight of his name to the suggestion that the 
work to be done would take at least twelve months, and that 
therefore his appointment to the Fisguard should not be 
limited to any less period. ** They might be disposed," 
wrote Huxley to him, " to cut anything I request down — on 
principle." Moreover, Owen, Forbes, Bell, and Sharpey, all 
members of the Committee of Recommendation of the 
Royal Society, had expressed themselves so favourably to 
his views that in his application he was able to relieve the 
economic scruples of the Admiralty by telling them that he 
had a means of publishing his papers through the Royal 

The result of his application, thus backed, was that he 
obtained his appointment on November 29. It was for six 
months, subject to extension if he were able to report satis- 
factory progress with his work. 

A long letter to his sister, now settled in Tennessee, 
gives a good idea of his aims and hopes at this time. 

41 North Bank, Regent's Park, 
Nov, 21, 1850. 
My dearest Lizzie — We have been at home now nearly 
three weeks, and I have been a free man again twelve days. 
Her Majesty's ships have been paid off on the 9th of this month. 


Properly speaking, indeed, we have been at home longer, for 
we touched at Plymouth and trod English ground and saw Eng- 
lish green fields on the 23rd of October, but we were allowed 
to remain only twenty-four hours, and to my great disgust were 
ordered round to Chatham to be paid off. The ill-luck which 
had made our voyage homeward so long (we sailed from Syd- 
ney on the 2nd of May) pursued us in the Channel, and we did 
not reach Chatham until the 2nd of November ; and what do you 
think was one of the first things I did when we reached Plym- 
outh? Wrote to Eliza K. asking news of a certain naughty 
sister of mine, from whom I had never heard a word since we 
had been away — and if perchance there should be any letter, 
^&g*"g? her to forward it immediately to Chatham. And so, 
when at length we got there, I found your kind long letter had 
been in England some six or seven months; but hearing of the 
likelihood of our return, they had very judiciously not sent it 
to me. 

Your letter, my poor Lizzie, justifies many a heartache I 
have had when thinking over your lot, knowing, as I well do, 
what emigrant life is in climates less tr)ring than that in which 
you live. I have seen a good deal of bush life in Australia, and 
it enables me fully to sympathise with and enter into every 
particular you tell me — from the baking and boiling and pigs 
squealing, down to that ferocious landshark Mrs. Gunther, of 
whose class Australia will furnish fine specimens. Had I been 
at home, too, I could have enlightened the good folks as to the 
means of carnage in the colonies, and could have told them 
that the two or twenty thousand miles over sea is the smallest 
part of the diflSculty and expense of getting anything to people 
living inland; as it is, I think I have done some good in the 
matter ; their meaning was good but their discretion small. But 
the obtuseness of English in general about anything out of the 
immediate circle of their owa experience is something won- 

I had heard here and there fractional accounts of your 
doings from Eliza K. and my mother — not of the most cheery 
description — and therefore I was right glad to get your letter, 
which, though it tells of sorrow and misfortune enough and to 
spare, yet shows me that the brave woman's heart you always 
had, my dearest Lizzie, is still yours, and that you have always 
had the warm love of those immediately around you, and now, 
as the doctor's letter tells us, you have one more source of joy 
and happiness, and this new joy must efface the bitterness — 


I do not say the memory, knowing how impossible that would 
be— of your great loss.* God knows, my dear sister, I could 
feel for you. It was as if I could see again a shadow of the 
great sorrow that fell upon us all years ago. 

Nothing can bind me more closely to your children than I 
am already, but if the christening be not all over you must let 
me be godfather ; and though I fear I am too much of a heretic 
to promise to bring him up a good son of the church — ^yet should 
ever the position which you prophesy, and of which I have an 
"Ahnung" (though I don't tell that to anybody but Nettie), 
be mine, he shall (if you will trust him to me) be cared for 
as few sons are. As things stand, I am talking half nonsense, 
but I mean it — and you know of old, for good and for evil, my 
tenacity of purpose. 

Now, as to my own affairs — I am not married. Prudently, 
at any rate, but whether wisely or foolishly I am not quite sure 
yet, Nettie and I resolved to have nothing to do with matrimony 
for the present In truth, though our marriage was my great 
wish on many accounts, yet I feared to bring upon her the con- 
sequences that might have occurred had anything happened to 
me within th^ next few years. We had a sad parting enough, 
and as is usually the case with me, time, instead of alleviating, 
renders more diss^eeable our separation. I have a woman's 
element in me. I hate the incessant struggle and toil to cut one 
another's throat among us men, and I long to be able to meet 
with some one in whom I can place implicit confidence, whose 
judgment I can respect, and yet who will not laugh at my most 
foolish weaknesses, and in whose love I can forget all care. All 
these conditions I have fulfilled in Nettie. With a strong natu- 
ral intelligence, and knowledge enough to understand and sym- 
pathise with my aims, with firmness of a man, when necessary, 
she combines the gentleness of a very woman and the honest 
simplicity of a child, and then she loves me well, as well as I 
love her, and you know I love but few — in the real meaning of 
the word, perhaps, but two — she and you. And now she is 
away, and you are away. The worst of it is I have no ambition, 
except as means to an end, and that end is the possession of a 
sufficient income to marry upon. I assure you I would not give 
two straws for all the honours and titles in the world. A worker 
I must always be — it is my nature — ^but if I had £400 a year I 
would never let my name appear to anything I did or shall ever 

* The death of her little daughter Jessie. 


do. It would be glorious to be a voice working in secret and 
free from all those personal motives that have actuated the best. 
But, unfortunately, one is not a " vox et praeterea nihil," but 
with a considerable corporality attached which requires feeding, 
and so while my inner man is continually indulging in these 
anchorite reflections, the outer is sedulously elbowing and push- 
ing as if he dreamed of nothing but gold medals and pro- 
fessors' caps. 

I am getting on very well — better I fear than I deserve. 
One of my papers was published in 1849 in the Philosophical 
Transactions, another in the Zoological Transactions, and some 
more may be published in the Linnipan if I like — ^but I think I 
shall not like. Then I have worked pretty hard, and brought 
home a considerable amount of drawings and notes about new 
or rare animals, all particularly nasty slimy things, and they 
will most likely be published as a separate work by the Roysd 

Owens, Forbes, Bell, and Sharpey (the doctor will tell you 
of what weight these names are) are all members of the com- 
mittee which disposes of the money, and are ajl strongly in 
favour of my "valuable researches" (cock-a-doodle-doo!!) 
being published by the Society. From various circumstances I 
have taken a better position than I could have expected among 
these grandees, and I find them all immensely civil and ready to 
help me on, tooth and nail, particularly Prof. Forbes, who is a 
right good fellow, and has taken a great deal of trouble on my 
behalf. Owen volunteered to write to the " First Lord " on 
my behalf, and did so. Sharpey, when I saw him, reminded 
me, as he always does, of my great contest with Stocks* (do 
you remember throwing the shoe?), and promised me all the 
assistance in his power. Prof. Bell, who is secretary to the 
Royal, and has great influence, promised to help me in every 
way, and asked me to dine with him and meet a lot of nobs. 
I take all these things quite as a matter of course, but am 
all the while considerably astonished. The other day I dined 
at the Geological Club and met Lyell, Murchison, de la B[eche] 
Homer, and a lot more, and last evening I dined with a whole 
lot of literary and scientific people. 

Owen was, in my estimation, great, from the fact of his 
smoking his cigar and singing his song like a brick. 

I tell you all these things to show you clearly how I stand. 

♦ See p. 19. 


I am under no one's patronage, nor do I ever mean to be. I 
have never asked, and I never will ask, any man for his help 
from mere motives of friendship. If any man thinks that I am 
capable of forwarding the great cause in ever so small a way, 
let him just give me a helping hand and I will thank him, but 
if not, he is doing both himself and me harm in offering it, and 
if it should be necessary for me to find public expression to my 
thoughts on any matter, I have clearly made up my mind to 
do so, without allowing myself to be influenced by hope of gain 
or weight of authority. 

There are many nice people in this world for whose praise or 
blame I care not a whistle. I don't know and I don't care whether 
I shall ever be what is called a great man. I will leave my mark 

somewhere, and it shall be clear and distinct T. H. H., his mark. 

and free from the abominable blur of cant, humbug, and self- 
seeking which surrounds everything in this present world — ^that 
is to say, supposing that I am not already unconsciously tainted 
myself, a result of which I have a morbid dread. I am perhaps 
overrating myself. You must put me in mind of my better 
self, as you did in your last letter, when you write. 

But I must come to the close of my epistie, as I have one to 
enclose from my mother. My next shall be longer, and I hope I 
shall then be able to tell you what I am doing. At any rate I 
hope to be in England for twelve months. 

I am very much ashamed of myself for not having written to 
you for so long— open confession is good for the soul, they say, 
and I will honestly confess that I was half puzzled, half piqued, 
and altogether sulky at your not having answered my last letter 
containing my love story, of which I wrote you an account be- 
fore anybody. You must not suppose my affection was a bit the 
less because I was half angry. Nettie, who knows you well, 
could tell you otherwise. Indeed, now that I know all, I con- 
sider myself a great brute, and I will give you leave, if you will 
but write soon, to scold me as much as you like. All the family 
are well. My father is the only one who is much altered, and 
that in mind and strength, not in bodily health, which is very 
good. My mother has lost her front teeth, but is otherwise just 
the same amusing, nervous, distressingly active old lady she 
always was. 

Our cruisers visit New Orleans sometimes, and if ever I am 
on the West India station, who knows, I may take a run up to 
see you all. Kindest love to the children. Tell Florry that I 



could not get her the bird with the long tail, but that some day 
I will send her some pictures of copper-coloured gentlemen with 
great big wigs and no trousers, and tell her her old uncle loves 
her very much and never forgets her nor anybody else. 

God bless you, dearest Lizzie. Write soon. — Ever your 
brother, Tom. 

Thus within a month of landing in England, Huxley 
had secured his footing in the scientific world. He was 
freed for the time from the more irksome part of his pro- 
fession; his service in the navy had become a stepping- 
stone to the pursuits in which his heart really was. He had 
long been half in despair over the work which he had sent 
out like the dove from the ark, if haply it might find him 
some standing ground in the world; no news of it had 
reached him till he was about to start on his homeward 
voyage, but he returned to discover that at a single stroke 
it had placed him in the front rank of naturalists. 

41 North Bank, Regent's Park, 
Jan, 3. 1851. 
My progress (he writes),* must necessarily be slow and un- 
certain. I cannot see two steps forwards. Much depends upon 
myself, much upon circumstances. Hitherto all has gone as well 
as I could wish. I have gained each object that I had set before 
myself — that is, I have my shore appointment, I have found a 
means of publishing what I have done creditably, and I have 
continued to come into communication with some of the first 
men in England in my department of science. But, as I have 
found to be the case in all things that are gained, from money 
to friendship, it is not so much getting as keeping. It is by no 
means difficult if you are decently introduced, have tolerably 
agreeable manners, and some smattering of science, to take a 
position among these folks, but it is a mighty different affair to 
keep it and turn it to account. Not like the man who, at the 
Enchanted Castle, had the courage to blow the horn but not to 
draw the sword, and was consequently shot forth from the 
mouth of the cave by which he entered with most ignominious 
haste, — one must be ready to fight immediately after one's 
arrival has been announced, or be blown into oblivion. 

♦ When not otherwise specified, the extracts in this chapter are from 
letters to his future wife. 


I have drawn the sword, but whether I am in truth to beat 
the giants and deliver my princess from the enchanted castle is 
yet to be seen. 

For several months he lived with his brother George and 
his wife at North Bank, St. John's Wood (the house was 
pulled down in 1896 for the Great Central Railway), but the 
surroundings were too easy, and not conducive to hard 

I must, I fear, emigrate to some "two pair back," which 
shall have the feel and manner of a workshop, where I can leave 
my books about and dissect a marine nastiness if I think fit, 
sallying forth to meet the world when necessary, and giving it 
no more time than necessary. If it were not for a fear that P. 
would take it unkindly I should go at once. I must summon up 
moral courage somehow (how difficult when it is to pain those 
we love !) and trust to her good sense for the rest. 

And later: — 

... I have been very busy looking about for the last two 
days, and have been in fifty houses if I have been in one. 1 
want some place with a decent address, cheap, and beyond all 
things, clean. The dirty holes that some of these lodgings are I 
such tawdry finery and such servants, with their faces and hands 
not merely dirty, but absolutely macadamised. And they all 
make this confounded great Exhibition a plea for about doubling 
the rent. 

So in April 185 1 he removed to lodgings hard by, at i 
Hanover Place, Clarence Gate, Regent's Park (" which 
sounds grand, but means nothing more than a sitting-room 
and bedroom in a small house "), then to St. Anne's Gar- 
dens, and after that to Upper York Place, while making 
a second home with his brother. His other great friends 
already in London were the Fannings, who had left Aus- 
tralia a few months before his own return. In the scientific 
world he soon made acquaintance with most of the leading 
men, and began a close friendship with Edward Forbes, with 
George Busk (then surgeon to H.M.S. Dreadnought at 
Greenwich, afterwards President of the College of Sur- 
geons) and his accomplished wife, and later in the year 
with both Hooker and Tyndall. The Busks, indeed, showed 


him the greatest kindness throughout this period of strug- 
gle, and the sympathy and intellectual stimulus he received 
from their society were of the utmost help. They were al- 
ways ready to welcome him at Greenwich, and he not only 
often ran down there for a week-end, but would spend part 
of his vacations with them at Lowestoft or Tenby, where 
naturalists could find plenty of occupation. 

But from a worldly point of view, it was too soon clear 
that science was sadly unprofitable. There seemed no 
speedy prospect of making enough to marfy on. As early 
as March 185 1 he writes: — 

The difficulties of obtaining a decent position in England in 
anything like a reasonable time seem to me greater than ever 
they were. To attempt to live by any scientific pursuit is a 
farce. Nothing but what is absolutely practical will go down 
in England. A man of science may earn great distinction, but 
not bread. He will get invitations to all sorts of dinners and 
conversaziones, but not enough income to pay his cab fare. A 
man of science in these times is like an Esau who sells his birth- 
right for a mess of pottage. Again, if one turns to practice, 
it is still the old story — wait; and only after years of working 
like a galley-slave and intriguing like a courtier is there any 
chance of getting a decent livelihood. I am not at all sure 
if ... it would not be the most prudent thing to stick by the 
Service : there at any rate is certainty in health and in sickness. 

Nevertheless he was mightily encouraged in the work of 
bringing out his Rattlesnake papers by a notable success in 
a quarter where he scarcely dared to hope for it. The 
Royal Society had for some time set itself to become a body 
of working men of science; to exclude for the future all 
mere dilettanti, and to admit a limited number of men whose 
work was such as to deserve recognition. Thanks to the 
initiative of Forbes, he now found this recognition accorded 
to him on the strength of his " Medusa " paper. He writes 
in February : — 

The F.R.S. that you tell me you dream of being appended to 
my name is nearer than one might think, to my no small sur- 
prise. ... I had no idea that it was at all within my reach, until 
I found out the other day, talking with Mr. Bell, that my having 
a paper in the Transactions was one of the best of qualifications. 

1851 ELECTED F.R.S. 73 

My friend Forbes, to whom I am so much indebted, has 
taken the matter in hand for me, and I am told I am sure of 
getting it this year or the next. I do not at all expect it this 
year, as there are a great many candidates, far better men than 
I. ... I shall think myself lucky if I get it next year. Don't 
say anything about the matter till I tell you. ... As the old 
proverb says, there is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. 

There were thirty-eight candidates; of these the Council 
would select fifteen, and submit their names for election at a 
general meeting of the Society. He was not yet twenty-six 
years of age, and certainly the youngest and least known 
of the competitors. Others probably had been up before — 
possibly many times before; nevertheless, on this, his first 
candidature, he was placed among the selected. The formal 
election did not take place till June 5, but on a chance 
visit to Forbes he heard the great news. The F.R.S. was a 
formal attestation of the value of the work he had already 
done; it was a token of success in the present, an augury 
of greater success in the future. No wonder the news was 

To-day (he writes on April 14) I saw Forbes at the Museum 
of Practical Geology, where I often drop in on him. " Well," he 
said, " I am glad to be able to tell you you are all right for the 
Royal Society; the selection was made on Friday night, and I 
hear that you are one of the selected. I have not seen the list, 
but my authority is so good that you may make yourself easy 
about it." I confess to having felt a little proud, though I 
believe I spoke and looked as cool as a cucumber. There were 
thirty-eight candidates, out of whom only fifteen could be 
selected, and I fear that they have left behind much better men 
than I. I shall not feel certain about the matter until I receive 
some official announcement. I almost wish that until then I 
had heard nothing about it. Notwithstanding all my cucumbery 
appearance, I will confess to you that I could not sit down and 
read to-day after the news. I wandered hither and thither rest- 
lessly half over London. . . . Whether I have it or not, I can 
say one thing, that I have left my case to stand on its own 
strength ; I have not asked for a single vote, and there are not 
on my certificate half the names that there might be. If it be 
mine, it is by no intrigue. 


Again, on May 4 : — 

I am twenty-six to-day . . . and it reminds me that I have 
left you now a whole year. It is perfectly frightful to think how 
the time is slipping by, and yet seems to bring us no nearer. 

What have I done with my twenty-sixth year ? Six months 
were spent at sea, and therefore may be considered as so much 
lost; and six months I have had in England. That, I may say, 
has not been thrown away altogether without fruit. I have read 
a good deal and I have written a good deal. I have made some 
valuable friends, and have found my work more highly esti- 
mated than I had ventured to hope. I must tell you something, 
because it will please you, even if you think me vain for 
doing so. 

I was talking to Professor Owen yesterday, and said that I 
imagined I had to thank him in great measure for the honour of 
the F.R.S. " No," he said, " you have nothing to thank but the 
goodness of your own work." For about ten minutes I felt 
rather proud of that speech, and shall keep it by me whenever 
I feel inclined to think myself a fool, and that I have a most 
mistaken notion of my own capacities. The only use of honours 
is as an antidote to such fits of the " blue devils." Of one thing, 
however, which is by no means so agreeable, my opportunities 
for seeing the scientific world in England force upon me every 
day a stronger and stronger conviction. It is that there is no 
chance of living by science. I have been loth to believe it, but 
it is so. There are not more than four or five offices in London 
which a Zoologist or Comparative Anatomist can hold and live 
by. Owen, who has a European reputation, second only to that 
of Cuvier, gets as Hunterian Professor £300 a year! which is 
less than the salary of many a bank clerk. My friend Forbes, 
who is a highly distinguished and a very able man, gets the 
same from his office of Paleontologist to the Geological Survey 
of Great Britain. Now, these are first-rate men — ^men who have 
been at work for years laboriously toiling upward — ^men whose 
abilities, had they turned them into the many channels of money- 
making, must have made large fortunes. But the beauty of 
Nature and the pursuit of Truth allured them into a nobler life 
— and this is the result. ... In literature a man may write for 
magazines and reviews, and so support himself; but not so in 
science. I could get anything I write into any of the journals 
or any of the Transactions,, but I know no means of thereby 
earning five shillings. A man who chooses a life of science 


chooses not a life of poverty, but, so far as I can see, a life of 
nothing, and the art of living upon nothing at all has yet to be 
discovered. You will naturally think, then, "Why persevere 
in so hopeless a course ? " At present I cannot help myself. For 
my own credit, for the sake of gratifying those who have hith- 
erto helped me on — nay, for the sake of truth and science itself, 
I must work out fairly and fully complete what I have begun. 
And when that is done, I will courageously and cheerfully turn 
my back upon all my old aspirations. The world is wide, and 
there is everywhere room for honesty of purpose and earnest 
endeavour. Had I failed in attaining my wishes from an over- 
weening self-confidence, — ^had I found that the obstacles after 
all lay within myself — I should have bitterly despised myself, 
and, worst of all, I should have felt that you had just ground 
of complaint. 

So far as the acknowledgment of the value of what I have 
done is concerned, I have succeeded beyond my expectations, 
and if I have failed on the other side of the question, I cannot 
blame myself. It is the world's fault and not mine. 

A few months more, and he was able to report another 
and still more unexpected testimony to the value of his 
work — ^another encouragement to persevere in the difficult 
pursuit of a scientific life. He found himself treated as an 
equal by men of established reputation ; and the first-fruits 
of his work ranked on a level with the maturer efforts of 
veterans in science. He was within an ace of receiving the 
Royal Medal, which was awarded him the following year. 
Of this, he writes : — 

November 7, 185 1. — I have at last tasted what it is to mingle 
with my fellows — to take my place in that society for which 
nature has fitted me, and whether the draught has been a poison 
which has heated my veins or true nectar from the gods, life- 
giving, I know not, but I can no longer rest where I once could 
have rested. If I could find within myself that mere personal 
ambition, the desire of fame, present or posthumous, had any- 
thing to do with this restlessness, I would root it out. But in 
those moments of self-questioning, when one does not lie even 
to oneself, I feel that I can say it is not so — that the real pleas- 
ure, the true sphere, lies in the feeling of self -development — in 
the sense of power and of growing oneness with the great spirit 
of abstract truth. 



Do you understand this ? I know you do ; our old oneness of 
feeling will not desert us here. . . . 

To-day a most unexpected occurrence came to my know- 
ledge. I must tell you that the Queen places at the disposal of 
the Royal Society once a year a valuable gold medal to be given 
to the author of the best paper upon either a physical, chemical, 
or anatomical or physiological subject. One of these branches 
of science is chosen by the Royal Society for each year, and 
therefore for any given subject — say anatomy and physiology; 
it becomes a triennial prize, and is given to the best memoir in 
the Transactions for three years. 

It happens that the Royal Medal, as it is called, is this year 
given in Anatomy and Physiology. I had no idea that I had the 
least chance of getting it, and made no effort to do so. But I 
heard this morning from a member of the Council that the 
award was made yesterday, and that I was within an ace of 
getting it. Newport, a man of high standing in the scientific 
world, and myself were the two between whom the choice rested, 
and eventually it was given to him, on account of his having a 
greater bulk of matter in his papers, so evenly did the balance 
swing. Had I only had the least idea that I should be selected 
they should have had enough and to spare from me. However, 
I do not grudge Newport his medal ; he is a good and a worthy 
competitor, old enough to be my father, and has long had a 
high reputation. Except for its practical value as a means of 
getting a position I care little enough for the medal. What I 
do care for is the justification which the being marked in this 
position gives to the course I have taken. Obstinate and self- 
willed as I am . . . there arc times when grave doubts over- 
shadow my mind, and then such testimony as this restores my 

To let you know the full force of what I have been saying, 
I must tell you that this " Royal Medal " is what such men as 
Owen and Faraday are glad to get, and is indeed one of the 
highest honours in England. 

To-day I had the great pleasure of meeting my old friend Sir 
John Richardson (to whom I was mainly indebted for my ap- 
pointment in the Rattlesnake). Since I left England he has 
married a third wife, and has taken a hand in joining in search 
of Franklin (which was more dreadful?), like an old hero as 
he is ; but not a feather of him is altered, and he is as grey, as 
really kind, and as seemingly abrupt and grim, as ever he was. 
Such a fine old polar bear 1 


The course pursued by the Govemment in the matter of 
Huxley's papers is curious and instructive. The Admiralty 
minute of 1849 had promised either money assistance for 
publishing or speedy promotion as an encouragement to 
scientific research in the Navy, especially by the medical 
officers. On leave to publish the scientific results of the 
expedition being asked for, the Department forestalled any 
request for monetary aid by an intimation that none would 
be given. Strong representations, however, from the lead- 
ing scientific authorities induced them to grant the appoint- 
ment to the Fisguard for six months. 

The sequel shows how the departmental representatives 
of science did their best for science in Huxley's case, so far 
as in their power lay : — 

June 6, 1 85 1. — The other day I received an intimation that 
my presence was required at Somerset House. I rather expected 
the mandate, as six months' leave was up. Sir William was 
very civil, and told me that the Commander of the Fisguard had 
applied to the Admiralty to know what was to be done with me, 
as my leave had expired. " Now," said he, " go to Forrest " (his 
secretary), " write a letter to me, stating what you want, and I 
will get it done for you." So away I went and applied for an 
indefinite amount of leave, on condition of reporting the 
progress of my work every six months, and as I suppose I shall 
get it, I feel quite easy on that head. 

In May 185 1 he applied to the Royal Society for help 
from the Govemment Grant towards publishing the bulk 
of his work as a whole, for much of its value would be lost 



if scattered fragmentarily among the Transactions of vari- 
ous learned societies. Personally, the members of the com- 
mittee were very willing to make the grant, but on further 
consideration it appeared that the money was to be applied 
for promoting research, not for assisting publication; and 
moreover, it was desirable not to establish a precedent for 
saddling the funds at the disposal of the Society with all 
the publications which it was the clear duty of the Govern- 
ment to undertake. On this ground the application was 
refused, but at the same time it was resolved that the Gov- 
ernment be formally asked to give the necessary subvention 
towards bringing out these valuable papers. 

A similar resolution was passed at the Ipswich meeting 
of the British Association in July 185 1, and at a meeting of 
its Council in March 1852 the President declared himself 
ready to carry it into effect by asking the Treasury for the 
needful £300. But at the July meeting he could only re- 
port a non possumus answer for the current year (1852) from 
the Government, and a resolution was passed recommend- 
ing that application on the subject be renewed by the British 
Association in the following year. 

Meanwhile, weary of official delay, Huxley had con- 
ceived the idea of writing direct to the Duke of Northum- 
berland, then First Lord of the Admiralty, whom he knew 
to take an interest in scientific research. At the same time 
he stirred Lord Rosse, the President of the Royal Society, 
to repeat his application to the Treasury. Although the 
Admiralty in April 1852 again refused money help, and bade 
him apply to the Royal Society for a portion of the Govern- 
ment Grant (which the latter had already refused him), the 
Hydrographer was directed to make inquiries as to the pro- 
priety of granting him an extension of leave. To his ques- 
tion asking the exact amount of time still required for finish- 
ing the work of publication, Huxley returned what he 
described as a " savage reply," that his experience of en- 
gravers led him to think that the plates could be published 
in eight or nine months from the receipt of a grant; that 
he had reason to believe this grant might soon be promised, 
but that the long delay was solely due to the remissness 


of those whose duty it was to represent his claims to the 
Government ; and finally, that he must ask for a year's ex- 
tension of leave. 

For these expressions his conscience smote him when, 
on June 12, at a soiree of the Royal Society, Lord Rosse 
took him aside and informed him that he had seen Sir C. 
Trevelyan, the Under Secretary to the Treasury, who said 
there would be no difficulty in the matter if it were properly 
laid before the Prime Minister, Lord Derby. To Lord 
Derby therefore he went, and was told that Mr. Huxley 
should go to the Treasury and arrange matters in person 
with Trevelyan. At the same time the indignant tone of 
his letter to the Hydrographer seemed to have done good ; 
he was invited to explain matters in person, and was granted 
the leave he asked for. 

Everything now seemed to point to a speedy solution of 
his difficulties. The promise of a grant, of course, did 
nothing immediate, but assured him a good position, and 
settled all the scruples of the Admiralty with regard to time. 
" You have no notion," he writes, " of the trouble the grant 
has cost me. It died a natural death till I wrote to the 
Duke in March, and brought it to life again. The more 
opposition there is, the more determined I am to carry it 
through." But he was doomed to a worse disappointment 
than before. Trevelyan received him very civilly, but had 
heard nothing on the matter from Lord Derby, and accord- 
ingly sent him in charge of his private secretary to see Lord 
Derby's secretary. The latter had seen no papers relating 
to any such matter, and supposed Lord Derby had not 
brought them from St. James' Square, "but promised to 
write to me as soon as anything was learnt. I look upon it 
as adjourned sine die" Parliament breaking up immedi- 
ately after gave the officials a good excuse for doing nothing 

When his year's leave expired in June 1853, he wrote 
the following letter to Sir William Burnett: — 

As the period of my leave of absence from H.M.S. Fisguard 
is about to expire, I have the honour to report that the duty on 
which I have been engaged has been carried out, as far as my 


means permit, by the publication of a " Memoir upon the Homol- 
ogies of the Cephalous Mollusca," with four plates, which ap- 
peared in the Philosophical Transactions for 1852 (published 
1853), being the fourth memoir resulting from the observations 
made during the voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake which has ap- 
peared in these Transactions. 

I have the pleasure of being able to add that the President 
and Council of the Royal Society have considered these memoirs 
worthy of being rewarded by the Royal Medal in Physiology 
for 1852, which they did me the honour to confer in the Novem- 
ber of that year. 

I regret that no definite answer of any kind having as yet 
been given to the strong representations which were made by the 
Presidents both of the Royal Society and of the British Associa- 
tion in 1852 to H.M. Government — representations which have 
recently been earnestly repeated — in order to obtain a g^ant for 
the purpose of publishing the remainder of these researches in 
a separate form, I have been unable to proceed any further, 
and I beg to request a renewal of my leave of absence from 
H.M.S. Fisguard, so that if H.M. Government think fit to give 
the grant applied for, it may be in my power to make use of it ; 
or that, should it be denied, I may be enabled to find some other 
means of preventing the total loss of the labour of some years. 

Hereupon he was allowed six months longer, but with 
the intimation that no further leave would be granted. A 
final application from the scientific authorities resulted in 
fresh inquiries as to the length of time still required, and the 
deadlock between the two departments of State being un- 
changed, he replied to the same effect as before, but to no 
purpose. His formal application for leave in January 1854 
was met by orders to join the Illustrious at Portsmouth. 
He appealed to the Admiralty that this appointment might 
be cancelled, giving a brief summary of the facts, and 
pointing out that it was the inaction of the Treasury which 
had absolutely prevented him from completing his work. 

I would therefore respectfully submit that, under these cir- 
cumstances, my request to be permitted to remain on half-pay 
until the completion of the publication of the results of some 
years' toil is not wholly unreasonable. It is the only reward for 
which I would ask their Lordships, and indeed, considering the 
distinct pledge given in the minute to which I have referred, 


to grant it would seem as nearly to concern their Lordships' 
honour as my advantage. 

The counter to this bold stroke was crushing, if not 
convincing. He was ordered to join his ship immediately 
under pain of being struck off the Navy list. He was of 
course prepared for this ultimatum, and whether he could 
manage to pursue science in England or might be compelled 
to set up as a doctor in Sydney, he considered that he would 
be better off than as an assistant surgeon in the Navy. 
Accordingly he stood firm, and the threat was carried into 
effect in March 1854. An unexpected consequence fol- 
lowed. As long as he was in the navy, with direct claims 
upon a Government department for assistance in publishing 
his work, the Royal Society had not felt justified in allotting 
him any part of the Government Grant But now that he 
had left the service, this objection was removed, and in June 
1854 the sum of £300 was assigned for this purpose, while 
the remainder of the expense was borne by the Ray Society, 
which undertook th^ publication under the title of Oceanic 
Hydrozoa. Thus he was able to record with some satisfac- 
tion how he at last has got the grant, though indirectly, 
from the Government, and considers it something of a tri- 
umph for the principle of the family motto, tenax propositi. 

While these fruitless negotiations with the Admiralty , 
were in progress, he had done a good deal, both in pub- 
lishing what he could of his Rattlesnake work, and in trying 
to secure some scientific appointment which would enable 
him to carry out his two chief objects : the one his marriage, 
the other the unhampered pursuit of science. In addition 
to the papers sent home from the cruise— one on the Medu- 
sae, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal 
Society for 1849, ^"^ one on the Animal of Trigonia, pub- 
lished in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society for the 
same year — he had reported to the Admiralty in June 185 1 
the publication of seven memoirs : — 

1. On the Auditory Organs of the Crustacea. Published in 
the Annals of Natural History, 

2. On the Anatomy of the genus Tethea. Published in the 
Annals of Natural History. 


3. Report upon the Development of the Echinoderms. To 
appear in the Annals for July. 

4. On the Anatomy and Physiology of the Salpae, with four 
plates. Read at the Royal Society, and to be published in the 
next part of the Philosophical Transactions, 

5. On two Genera of Ascidians, Doliolum and Appen- 
dicularia, with one plate. Read at the Royal Society, and 
to be published in the next part of the Philosophical Trans- 

6. On some peculiarities in the Circulation of the Mollusca. 
Sent to M. Milne-Edwards, at his request, to be published in the 
Annales des Sciences, 

7. On the Generative Organs of the Physophoridae and 
Diphydae. Sent to Prof. MuUer of Berlin for publication in his 

By the end of the year he had four more to report : — 
I. On the Hydrostatic Acalephae; 2. On the genus Sagitta, 
both published in the Report of the British Association for 
185 1 ; 3. On Lacinularia Socialis, a contribution to the 
anatomy and physiology of the Rotifera, in the Transactions 
of the Microscopical Society] 4. On Thalassicolla, a new 
zoophyte, in the Annals of Natural History, Next year he 
read before the British Association a paper entitled " Re- 
searches into the Structure of the Ascidians," and a very 
important one on the Morphology of the Cephalous Mol- 
*lusca, afterwards published in the Philosophical Transactions, 
In addition he had prepared a great part of his longer work 
for publication; out of twenty-four or twenty-five plates, 
nineteen were ready for the engraver when he wrote his 
appeal to the Duke of Northumberland. In this same year, 
1852, he was also awarded the Royal Medal in Physiology 
for the value of his contributions to the Philosophical Trans- 

In 1853, besides seeing some of these papers through 
the press, he published one on the existence of Cellulose in 
the Tunic of Ascidians, read before the Microscopical So- 
ciety, and two papers on the Structure of the Teeth; the 
latter, of course, like a paper of the previous year on Echi- 
nococcus, being distinct from the Rattlesnake work. The 
greater work on Oceanic Hydrozoa, over which the battle 


of the grant in aid had been waged so long, did not see 
the light until 1858, when his interest had been diverted 
from these subjects, and to return to them was more a 
burden than a pleasure. 

In the second place, the years 1851-53, so full of profit- 
less successes in pure science, and delusive hopes held out 
by the Government, were marked by an equally unsuccess- 
ful series of attempts to obtain a professorship. If a chair 
of Natural History had been established, as he hoped, in 
the projected university at Sydney, he would gladly have 
stood for it. Sydney was a second home to him ; he would 
have been backed by the great influence of Macleay ; and 
in his eyes a naturalist could not desire a finer field for 
his labours than the waters of Port Jackson. But this was 
not to be, and the first chair he tried for was the newly- 
instituted chair of Zoology at the University of Toronto. 
The vacancy was advertised in the summer of 185 1 ; the 
pay of full £300 a year was enough to marry on ; his friends 
reassured him as to his capacity to fill the post, which, 
moreover, did not debar him from the hope of returning 
some day to fill a similar post in England. 

I Edward Street, St. John's Wood Terrace, 
July 29 [1851]. 

My dear Henfrey — I have been detained in town, or I hope 
we should long since have had our projected excursion. 

What do you think of my looking out for a Professorship of 

Natural History at Toronto? Pay £350, with chances of extra 

fees. I think that out there one might live comfortably upon 

, that sum — possibly even do the domestic and cultivate the Loves 

and Graces as well as the Muses. 

Seriously, however, I should like to know what you think of 
it. The choice of getting anything over here without devoting 
one's self wholly to Mammon, seems to me very small. At least 
it involves years of waiting. 

Toronto is not very much out of the way, and the pay is 
decent and would enable me to devote myself wholly to my 
favourite pursuits. Were it in England, I could wish nothing 
better; and, as it is, I think it would answer my purpose very 
well for some years at any rate. 

If they go fairly to work I think I shall have a very good 



chance of being elected; but I am told that these matters are 
often determined by petty intrigues. 

^ I — • — — - — ". ^ J — ^ ^ 



Criu^^M. c^ 

Francis* and I looked for you everywhere at the Botanic 
Gardens, and finding you were too wise to come, came here, 
grieving your absence, and had an aesthetic " Bier." 

He obtained a remarkably strong set of testimonials 
from all the leading anatomists and physiologists in the 
kingdom, as well as one from Milne-Edwards in Paris. 

I have put together (he writes) twelve or fourteen testi- 
monials from the first men. I will have no other. 

His newly-obtained F.R.S. was a recommendation in 
itself. So that he writes : — 

* Dr. William Francis, one of the editors of the Philosophical Maga- 
jtine^ and a member of the publishing firm of Taylor and Francis. 


There are, I learn, several other candidates, but no one I fear 
at all, if they only have fair play. There is no one of the others 
who can command anything like the scientific influence which is 
being exercised for me, whatever private influence they may have. 

What makes all the big- wigs so marvellously zealous on my 
behalf I know not. I have sought none of them and flattered 
none of them, that I can say with a good conscience, and I think 
you know me well enough to believe it. I feel very grateful 
to them; and if it ever happens that I am able to help a young 
man on (when I am a big- wig myself!) I shall remember it 

And again, September 23, 185 1 : — 

When I have once sent away my testimonials and done all 
that is to be done, I shall banish the subject from my mind and 
make myself quite easy as to results. For the present I confess 
to being somewhat anxious. 

Nevertheless, after many postponements, a near relative 
of an influential Canadian politician was at length appointed 
late in 1853. By an amusing coincidence, Huxley's newly- 
made friend, Tyndall, was likewise a candidate for a chair 
at Toronto, and likewise rejected. Two letters, concerning 
Tyndall's election to the Royal Society, contain references 
both to Toronto and to Sydney. 

4 Upper York Place, St. John's Wood, 
Die. 4 [1851]. 

My dear Sir — I was greatly rejoiced to find I could be of 
service to you in any way, and I only regret, for your sake, that 
my name is not a more weighty one. Your election, I should 
think, can be a matter of no doubt. 

As to Toronto, I confess I am not very anxious about it. 
Sydney would have been far more to my taste, and I confess I 
envy you what, as I hear, is the very good chance you have of 
going there. 

It used to be our headquarters in the Rattlesnake and my 
home for three months in the year. Should you go, I should be 
very happy, if you like, to give you letters to some of my 

Greatly as I wish we had been destined to do our work 
together, I cannot but offer the most hearty wishes for your 
success in Sydney. — Ever yours very faithfully, 

John Tyndall, Esq. Thomas H. Huxley. 


41 North Bank, Regent's Park, 
May 7, 1852. 

My dear Tyndall — Allow me to be one of the first to have 
the pleasure of congratulating you on your new honours. I had 
the satisfaction last night to hear your name read out as one of 
the selected of the Council of the Royal Society for election to the 
Fellowship this year, and you are therefore as good as elected. 

I always made sure of your success, but I am not the less 
pleased that it is now a fait accompli. — I am, my dear Tyndall, 
faithfully yours, T. H. Huxley. 

PS.— I have heard nothing of Toronto, and I begin to think 
that the whole affair. University and all, is a myth. 

His hopes of the Colonies failing, he tried each of the 
divisions of the United Kingdom in turn, with uniform ill- 
success; in 1852-53 at Aberdeen and at Cork; in 1853 at 
King's College, London. He had great hopes of Aberdeen 
at first; the appointment lay with the Home Secretary, a 
personal friend of Sir J. Clark, who was interested in Hux- 
ley though not personally acquainted with him. But no 
sooner had he written to urge the latter's claims than a 
change of ministry took place, and other influences com- 
manded the field. It was cold comfort that Clark told him 
only to wait — something must turn up. There was still a 
great probability of the Toronto chair falling to a Cork 
professor; so with this hi view, he gave up a trip to Cha- 
mounix with his brother, and attended the meeting of the 
British Association at Belfast in August 1852, in order 
to make himself known to the Irish men of science, for, as 
hiis friends told him, personal influence went for so much, 
and while most men's reputations were better than them- 
selves, he might flatter himself that he was better than his 
reputation. But this, too, came to nothing, and the King's 
College appointment also went to the candidate who was 
backed by the most powerful influence. 

A fatality seemed to dog his efforts; nevertheless he 
writes at the end of 1851 : — 

Among my scientific friends the monition I get on all sides is 
that of Dante's great ancestor to him — 

A te sequi la tua Stella. 


If this were from personal friends only, I should disregard it; 
but it comes from men to whose approbation it would be foolish 
affectation to deny the highest value. I find myself treated on 
a footing of equality ("my proud self," as you may suppose, 
would not put up with any other) by men whose names and 
works have been long before the world. My opinions arc 
treated with a respect altogether unaccountable to me, and 
what I have done is quoted as having full authority. Without 
canvassing a soul or making use of any influence, I have been 
elected into the Royal Society at a time when that election is 
more difficult than it has ever been in the history of the Society. 
Without my knowledge I was within an ace of getting the Royal 
Society medal this year, and if I go on I shall very probably 
get it next time. 

In 1852 he was not only to receive this coveted honour,* 
but also to be elected upon the Royal Society Council. In 
January 1852, when standing for Toronto, he describes how 
Col. Sabine, then Secretary of the Royal Society, dissuaded 
him from the project, saying that a brilliant prospect lay 
before him if he would only wait. 

" Make up your mind to get something fairly within your 
reach, and you will have us all with you." Prof. Owen again 
offers to do anything in his power for me; Prof. Forbes will 
move heaven and earth for mc if he can; Gray, Bell, and all 
the leading men are, I know, similarly inclined. Fate says wait, 
and you shall reach the goal which from a child you have set 
before yourself. On the other hand, a small voice like con- 
science speaks of one who is wasting youth and life away for 
your sake. 

Other friends, who, while recognising his general capaci- 
ties, were not scientific, and had no direct appreciation of 
his superlative powers in science, thought he was following 
a course which would never allow him to marry, and urged 
him to give up his unequal battle with fate, and emigrate to 
Australia. Of this he writes on August 5, 1852, to Miss 
Heathom : — 

I must make up my mind to it if nothing turns up. How- 
ever, I look upon such a life as would await me in Australia 
with great misgiving. A life spent in a routine employment, 

♦ See pp. Ill sqq. 


with no excitement and no occupation for the higher powers of 
the intellect, with its great aspirations stifled and all the great 
problems of existence set hopelessly in the background, offers to 
me a prospect that would be utterly intolerable but for your 
love. . . . Sometimes I am half mad with the notion of bring- 
ing all my powers in a surer struggle for a livelihood. Some- 
times I am equally wild at thinking of the long weary while that 
has passed since we met There are times when I cannot bear 
to think of leaving my present pursuits, when I feel I should be 
g^lty of a piece of cowardly desertion from my duty in doing 
it, and there come intervals when I would give truth and sci- 
ence and all hopes to be folded in your arms. ... I know which 
course is right, but I never know which I may follow; help 
me . . . for there is only one course in which there is either 
hope or peace for me. 

These repeated disappointments deepened the fits of de- 
pression which constantly assailed him. He was torn by 
two opposing thoughts. Was it just, was it right, to demand 
so great a sacrifice from the woman who had entrusted her 
future to the uncertain chances of his fortunes? Could he 
ask her to go on offering up the best years of her life to 
aspirations of his which were possibly chimerical, or per- 
haps merely selfishness in disguise, which ought to yield to 
more imperative duties? Why not clip the wings of Peg- 
asus, and descend to the sober, everyday jog-trot after 
plain bread and cheese like other plain people ? Time after 
time he almost made up his mind to throw science to the 
winds; to emigrate and establish a practice in Sydney; to 
try even squatting or storekeeping. And yet he knew only 
too well that with his temperament no life would bring him 
the remotest approach to lasting happiness and satisfaction 
except one that gave scope to his intellectual passion. To 
yield to the immediate pressure of circumstances was per- 
haps ignoble, was even more probably a surer road to the 
loss of happiness for himself and for his wife than the 
repeated and painful sacrifices of the present. With all 
this, however, and the more when assured of her entire 
confidence in his judgment, he could not but feel a sense 
of remorse that she willingly accepted the sacrifice, and 
feared that she might have done so rather to gratify his 

185a DESPAIR 89 

wishes than because reason approved it as the right course 
to follow. 

Here is another typical extract from his correspondence. 
Hearing that Toronto is likely to go to a relative of a Cana- 
dian minister, he writes, January 2, 1852 : — 

I think of all my dreams and aspirations, and of the path 
which I know lies before me if I can only bide my time, and it 
seems a sin and a shameful thing to allow my resolve to be 
turned; and then comes the mocking suspicion, is this fine ab- 
stract duty of yours anything but a subtlety of your own selfish- 
ness ? Have you not other more imperative duties ? 

You may fancy whether my life is a very happy one thus 
spent without even the satisfaction of the sense of right-doing. 
I must come to some resolution about it, and that shortly. I 
was talking seriously with Fanning the other night about the 
possibility of finding some employment of a profitable kind in 
Australia, storekeeping, squatting, or the like. As I told him, 
any change in my mode of life must be total. If I am to change 
at all, the change must be total and complete. I will not attempt 
my own profession. I should only be led astray to think and to 
work as of old, and sigh continually for my old dear and intoxi- 
cating pursuits. I wish I understood Brewing, and I would 
make a proposition to come and help your father. You may 
smile, but I am as serious as ever I was in my life. 

The distance between them made it doubly difficult to 
keep in touch with one another, when the post took from 
four and a half to five or even six months to reach England 
from Australia. The answer to a letter would come when 
the matter in question was long done with. The assur- 
ance that he was doing right at one moment seemed in- 
adequate when circumstances had altered and hope sunk 
lower. It was all too easy to suspect that she did not under- 
stand his aims, his thirst for action, nor the fact that he was 
no longer free to do as he liked, whether to stay in the 
navy, to go into practice, or follow his own pursuits and 
pleasure. Yet it made him despair to be so hedged in by 
circumstances. With all his efforts, he seemed as though 
he had done nothing but earn the reputation of being a 
very promising young man. How much easier to continue 
the struggle if he could but have seen her face to face, and 



read her thoughts as to whether he were right or wrong in 
the course he was pursuing. He appeals to her faith that 
he is choosing the nobler path in pursuing knowledge, than 
in turning aside to the temptation of throwing it up for the 
sake of their speedier union. Still she was right in claim- 
ing a share in his work; but for her his life would have 
been wasted. 

The clouds gathered very thickly about him when in 
April 1852 his mother died, while his father was hopelessly 
ill. " Belief and happiness," he writes, " seem to be beyond 
the reach of thinking men in these days, but courage and 
silence are left" Again the clouds lifted, for in October he 
received Miss Heathom's " noble and self-sacrificing letter, 
which has given me more comfort than an>thing for a long 
while," the keynote of which was that a man should pursue 
those things for which he is most fitted, let them be what 
they will. He now felt free to tell the vicissitudes of 
thought and will he had passed through this twelvemonth, 
and how the idea of giving up all had affected him. 
" The spectre of a wasted life has passed before me — a 
vision of that servant who hid his talent in a napkin and 
buried it." 

Early in 1853 he writes how much he was cheered by his 
sister's advice and encouragement to persist in the struggle ; 
but the darkest moment was still to come. His hopes from 
his candidature crumbled away one after the other ; his leave 
from the Admiralty was coming to an end, and there was 
small hope of renewing it ; the grant from Government re- 
mained as unattainable as ever ; the long struggle had taught 
him the full extent of his powers only, it seemed, to end by 
denying him all opportunity for their use. 

And so the card house I have been so laboriously building up 
these two years with all manner of hard struggling will be 
tumbled down again, and my small light will be ignominiously 
snuffed out like that of better men. ... I can submit if the fates 
are too strong. The world is no better than an arena of gladi- 
ators, and I, a stray savage, have been turned into it to fight my 
way with my rude club among the steel-clad fighters. Well, I 
have won my way into the front rank, and ought to be thankful 


and deem it only the natural order of things if I can get no 

And again in a letter of July 6, 1853 : — 

I know that these three years have inconceivably altered 
me — that from being an idle man, only too happy to flow into 
the humours of the moment, I have become almost unable to 
exist without active intellectual excitement. I know that in 
this I find peace and rest such as I can attain in no other way. 
From being a mere untried fledgling, doubtful whether the wish 
to fly proceeded from mere presumption or from budding wings, 
I have now some confidence in well-tried pinions, which have 
given me rank among the strongest and foremost. I have 
always felt how difficult it was for you to realise all this — ^how 
strange it must be to you that though your image remained as 
bright as ever, new interests and purposes had ranged themselves 
around it, and though they could claim no pre-eminence, yet 
demanded their share of my thoughts. I make no apology for 
this — it is man's nature and the necessary influence of circum- 
stances which will so have it; and depend, however painful our 
present separation may be, the spectacle of a man who had 
given up the cherished purpose of his life, the Esau who had 
sold his birthright for a mess of pottage and with it his self- 
respect, would before long years were over our heads be infi- 
nitely more painful. Depend upon it, the trust which you 
placed in my hands when I left you — ^to choose for both of us — 
has not been abused. Hemmed in by all sorts of difficulties, my 
choice was a narrow one, and I was guided more* by circum- 
stances than my own free will. Nevertheless the path has shown 
itself to be a fair one, neither more difficult nor less so than 
most paths in life in which a man of energy may hope to do 
much if he believes in himself, and is at peace within. 

My course in life is taken. I will not leave London — I will 
make myself a name and a position as well as an 'income by some 
kind of pursuit connected with science, which is the thing for 
which nature has fitted me if she has ever fitted any one for any- 
thing. Bethink yourself whether you can cast aside all repining 
and all doubt, and devote yourself in patience and trust to help- 
ing me along my path as no one else could. I know what I ask, 
and the sacrifice I demand, and if this were the time to use false 
modesty, I should say how little I have to offer in return. . . . 

I am full of faults, but I am real and true, and the whole 
devotion of an earnest soul cannot be overprized. 



... It is as if all that old life at Holmwood had merely been 
a preparation for the real life of our love — as if we were then 
children ignorant of life's real purpose — as if these last months 
had merely been my old doubts over again, whether I had rightly 
or wrongly interpreted the manner and the words that had given 
me hope. . . . 

We will begin the new love of woman and man, no longer 
that of boy and girl, conscious that we have aims and pur- 
poses as well as affections, and that if love is sweet life is dread- 
fully stern and earnest. 

As time went on and no permanency offered — ^although 
a good deal of writing fell in his way — the strain told 
heavily upon him. In the autumn he was quite out of sorts, 
body and mind, more at war with himself than he ever 
was in his life before. All this, he writes, had darkened his 
thoughts, had made him once more imagine a hopeless dis- 
crepancy between the two of them in their ways of thinking 
and objects in life. It was not till November 1853 that this 
depression was banished by the trust and confidence of her 
last letter. " I wish to Heaven," he writes, " it had reached 
me six months ago. It would have saved me a world of 
pain and error." But with this, the worst period of mental 
suffering was over, and every haunting doubt was finally 
exorcised. His career was made possible by the steady 
faith which neither separation nor any misgiving nor its own 
troubles could shake. And from this point all things began 
to brighten. His health had been restored by a trip to the 
Pyrenees with his brother George in September. He had 
got work that enabled him to regard the Admiralty and its 
menaces with complete equanimity ; a Manual of Compara- 
tive Anatomy, for Churchill the publisher, regular work on 
the Westminster* and another book in prospect, " so that 
if I quit the Service to-morrow, these will give me more than 

* This regular work was the article on Contemporary Science, which 
in October 1854 he got Tyndall to share with him. For, he writes, 
** To give some account of the books in one's own department is no 
particular trouble, and comes with me under the head of being paid 
for what I must, in any case, do— but I neither will, nor can, go on 
writing about books in other departments, of which I am not com- 
petent to form a judgment even if I had the time to give to them.** 


my pay has been." And on December 7 he writes how he 
has been restored and revived by reading over her last two 
letters, and confesses, " I have been unjust to the depth 
and strength of your devotion, but will never do so again." 
Then he tells all he had gone through before leaving Eng- 
land in September for his holiday — how he had resolved 
to abandon all his special pursuits and take up Chemistry, 
for practical purposes, when first one publisher and then 
another asked him to write for them, and hopes were held 
out to him of being appointed to deliver the Fullerian lec- 
tures at the Royal Institution for the next three years ; while, 
most important of all, Edward Forbes was likely before long, 
to leave his post at the Museum of Practical Geology, and 
he had already been spoken to by the authorities about fill- 
ing it. This was worth some £200 a year, while he calcu- 
lated to make about £250 by his pen alone. " Therefore it 
would be absurd to go hunting for chemical birds in the 
bush when I have such in the hand." 


Several letters dating from 1851 to 1853 help to fill up 
the outlines of Huxley's life during those three years of 
struggle. There is a description of the British Association 
meeting at Ipswich in 185 1,* with the traditional touch of 
gaiety to enliven the gravity of its proceedings, and the un- 
conventional jollity of the Red Lion Club (a dining-club of 
members of the Association), whose palmy days were those 
under the inspiration of the genial and gifted Forbes. This 
was the meeting at which Huxley first began his alliance 
with Tyndall, with whom he travelled down from town, 
although he does not mention his name in this letter. With 
Hooker he had already made acquaintance ; and from this 
time forwards the three were closely bound together by 
personal regard as well as by similarity of aims and interests. 

Then follow his sketch of the English scientific world as 
he found it in 185 1, given in his letter to W. Macleay; 
several letters to his sister; the description of his first lec- 
ture at the Royal Institution, which, though successful on 
the whole, was very different in manner and delivery from 
the clear and even flow of his later style, with the voice not 
loud but distinct, the utterance never hurried beyond the 
point of immediate comprehension, but carrying the atten- 
tion of the audience with it, eager to the end. Two letters 
of warning and remonstrance against the habits of lecturing 

* ** Forbes advises me to go down to the meeting of the British As- 
sociation this year and make myself notorious somehow or other. 
Thank Heaven I have impudence enough to lecture the savans of Eu- 
rope if necessary. Can you imagine me holding forth ?" (June 6, 1851.) 


in a colloquial tone, suitable to a knot of students gathered 
round his table, but not to a large audience— of running 
his words, especially technical terms, together — of pouring 
out new and unfamiliar matter at breakneck speed, were 
addressed to him-— one by a " working man " of his Monday 
evening audience at Jermyn Street in 1855, the other, un- 
dated, by Mr. Jodrell, a frequenter of the Royal Institution, 
and afterwards founder of the Jodrell Lectureships at Uni- 
versity College, London, and other benefactions to science, 
and these he kept by him as a perpetual reminder, labelled 
" Good Advice." How much can be done by the frank 
acceptance of criticism and by careful practice is shown 
by the difference between the feelings of the later audiences 
who flocked to his lectures, and those of the members of 
an Institute in St. John's Wood, who, as he often used 
to tell, after hearing him in his early days, petitioned " not 
to have that young man again." 

July 12, 185 1. — The interval between my letters has been a 
little longer than usual, as I have been very busy attending the 
meeting of the British Association at Ipswich. The last time I 
attended one was at Southampton five years ago, when I went 
merely as a spectator, and looked at the people who read papers 
as if they were somebodies.* This time I have been behind the 
scenes myself and have played out my little part on the boards. 
I know all about the scenery and decorations, and no longer 
think the manager a wizard. 

Any one who conceives that I went down from any especial 
interest in the progress of science makes a great mistake. My 
journey was altogether a matter of policy, partly for the purpose 
of doing a little necessary trumpeting, and partly to get the 
assistance of the Association in influencing the Government. 

On the journey down, my opposite in the railway carriage 
turned out to be Sir James Ross, the Antarctic discoverer. We 
had some very pleasant talk together. I knew all about him, as 
Dayman t had sailed under his command; oddly enough we 
afterwards went to lodge at the same house, but as we were 
attending our respective sections all day we did not see much 
of one another. 

* See Chap. II., ad fin, 

f One of the lieutenants of the Rattlesnake, 


When we arrived at Ipswich there was a good deal of trouble 
about getting lodgings. My companions located themselves 
about a mile out of the town, but that was too far for my " in- 
dolent habits " ; I sought and at last found a room in the town 
a little bigger than my cabin on board ship for which I had the 
satisfaction of paying 30s. a week. 

You know what the British Association is. It is a meeting 
of the savans of England and the Continent, under the presi- 
dency of some big-wig or other, — this year of the Astronomer- 
Royal, — for the purpose of exchanging information. To this 
end they arrange themselves into different sections, each with 
its own president and committee, and indicated by letters. For 
instance, Section A is for Mathematics and Physics; Section 
B for Chemistry, etc. ; my own section, that of Natural History, 
was D, under the presidency of Professor Henslow of Cam- 
bridge. I was on the committee, and therefore saw the working 
of the whole affair. 

On the first day there was a dearth of matter in our section. 
People had not arrived with their papers. So by way of finding 
out whether I could speak in public or not, I got up and talked to 
them for about twenty minutes. I was considerably surprised 
to find that when once I had made the plunge, my tongue went 
glibly enough. 

On the following day I read a long paper, which I had pre- 
pared and illustrated with a lot of big diagrams, to an audience 
of about twenty people ! The rest were all away after Prince Al- 
bert, who had been unfortunately induced to visit the meeting, 
and fairly turned the heads of the good people of Ipswich. On 
Saturday a very pleasant excursion on scientific pretences, but in 
fact a most jolly and unscientific picnic, took place. Several hun- 
dred people went down the Orwell in a steamer. The majority 
returned, but I and two others, considering Sunday in Ipswich 
an impossibility, stopped at a little seaside village, Felixstowe, 
and idled away our time there very pleasantly. Babington the 
botanist and myself walked in to Ipswich on Sunday night. It 
is about eleven miles, and we did it comfortably in two hours 
and three quarters, which was not bad walking. 

On Monday at Section D again. Forbes brought forward 
the subject of my application to Government in committee, and 
it was unanimously agreed to forward a resolution on the sub- 
ject to the Committee of Recommendations. I made a speechi- 
fication of some length in the Section about a new animal. 

On Thursday morning I attended a meeting of the Ray 


Society, and to my infinite astonishment, the secretary, Dr. 
Lankester, gave mc the second motion to make. The Prince 
of Casino moved the first, so I was in good company. The great 
absurdity of it was that not being a member of the Society I 
had properly no right to speak at all. However, it was only a 
vote of thanks, and I got up and did the " neat and appropriate " 
in style. 

After this a party of us went out dredging in the Orwell in 
a small boat. We were away all day, and it rained hard coming 
back, so that I got wet through, and had to pull five miles to 
keep off my enemy, the rheumatics. 

Then came the President's dinner, to which I did not go, as 
I preferred making myself comfortable with a few friends else- 
where. And after that, the final evening meeting, when all the 
final determinations are announced. 

Among them I had the satisfaction to hear that it was 
resolved — that the President and Council of the British Asso- 
ciation should co-operate with the Royal Society in repre- 
senting the value and importance, etc., of Mr. T. H. Huxley's 
zoological researches to Her Majesty's Government for the pur- 
pose of obtaining a grant towards their publication. Subse- 
quently I was introduced to Colonel Sabine, the President of 
the Association in 1852, and a man of very high standing and 
considerable influence. He had previously been civil enough 
to sign my certificate at the Royal Society, unsolicited, and 
therefore knew me by reputation — I only mean that as a very 
small word. He was very civil and promised me every assist- 
ance in his power. 

It is a curious thing that out of the four applications to 
Government to be made by the Association, two were for Naval 
Assistant-Surgeons, viz. one for Dr. Hooker, who had just re- 
turned from the Himalaya Mountains, and one for me. How I 
envied Hooker ; he has long been engaged to a daughter of Pro- 
fessor Henslow's, and at this very meeting he sat by her side. 
He is going to be married in a day or two. His father is director 
of the Kew Gardens, and there is little doubt of his succeed- 
ing him. 

Whether the Government accede to the demand that will 
be made upon them or not, I can now rest satisfied that no 
means of influencing them has been left unused by me. If 
they will not listen to the conjoint recommendations of the 
Royal Society and the British Association, they will listen to 
nothing. . . . 



July i6, 185 1. — I went yesterday to dine with Colonel Sa- 
bine. We had a long discourse about the prospects and probable 
means of existence of young men trying to make their way to 
an existence in the scientific world. I took, as indeed what I 
have seen has forced me to take, rather the despairing side of 
the question, and said that as it seemed to me England did not 
afford even the means of existence to young men who were 
willing to devote themselves to science. However, he spoke 
cheeringly, and advised me by no means to be hasty, but to wait, 
and he doubted not that I should succeed. He cited his own 
case as an instance of waiting, eventually successful. Alto- 
gether I felt the better for what he said. . . . 

There has been a notice of me in the Literary Gazette for 
last week, much more laudatory than I deserve, from the pen of 
my friend Forbes.* . . . 

In the same number is a rich song from the same fertile and 
versatile pen, which was sung at one of our Red Lion meetings. 
That is why I want you to look at it, not that you will under- 
stand it, because it is full of allusions to occurrences known only 
in the scientific circles. At Ipswich we had a grand Red Lion 
meeting; about forty members were present, and among them 
some of the most distinguished members of the Association. 
Some foreigners were invited (the Prince of Casino, Buona- 
parte's nephew, among others), and were not a little astonished 
to see the grave professors, whose English solemnity and gravity 
they had doubtless commented on elsewhere, giving themselves 
up to all sorts of fun. Among the Red Lions we have a custom 
(instead of cheering) of waving and wagging one coat-tail 
(one Lion's tail) when we applaud. This seemed to strike the 
Prince's fancy amazingly, and when he got up to return thanks 
for his health being drunk, he told us that as he was rather 
out of practice in speaking English, he would return thanks 
in our fashion, and therewith he gave three mighty roars and 
wags, to the no small amusement of every one. He is singularly 
like the portraits of his uncle, and seems a very jolly, good- 
humoured old fellow. I believe, however, he is a bit of a rip. 
It was remarkable how proud the Quakers were of being noticed 
by him. 

* An appreciation of his papers on the Physophoridae and Sagitta, 
speaking highly both of his observations and philosophic power, in 
the report of the proceedings in Section D. 


To W. Macleay, of Sydney 

41 North Bank, Regent's Park, N<nf, 9, 185 1. 
My dear Sir — It is a year to-day since the old Rattlesnake 
was paid off, and that reminds me among other things that I 
have hardly kept my promise of giving you information now 
and then upon the state of matters scientific in England. My 
last letter is, I am afraid, nine or ten months old, but here in 
England the fighting and scratching to keep your place in the 
crowd exclude almost all other thoughts. When I last wrote I 
was but at the edge of the crush at the pit-door of this great 
fools' theatre — now I have worked my way into it and through 
it, and am, I hope, not far from the check-takers. I have learnt 
a good deal in my passage. 

[Follows an account of his efforts to get his papers 
published — substantially a repetition of what has already 
been given.] 

Rumours there are scattered abroad of a favourable cast, 
and I am told on all hands that something will certainly be done. 
I only asked for £300, something less than the cost of a parlia- 
mentary blue-book which nobody ever hears of. They take care 
to obliterate any spark of gratitude that might perchance arise 
for What they do, by keeping one so long in suspense that the 
result becomes almost a matter of indifference. Had I known 
they would keep me so long, I would have published my work 
as a series of papers in the Philosophical Transactions, 

In the meanwhile I have not been idle, as I hope to show you 
by the various papers enclosed with this. You will recollect that 
on the Salpae. No one here knew anything about them, and I 
thought that all my results were absolutely new — until, me 
miserum! I found them in a little paper of Krohn's in the 
Annates des Sciences for 1846, without any figures to draw 
anybody's attention. 

The memoir on the Medusae (which I sent to you) has, I 
hear, just escaped a high honour — to wit, the Royal Medal. The 
award has been made to Newport for his paper on " Impregna- 
tion." I had no idea that anything I had done was likely to 
have the slightest claim to such distinction, but I was informed 
yesterday by one of the Council that the balance hung pretty 
evenly, and was only decided by their thinking my memoir was 
too small and short. 


I have been working in all things with a reference to wide 
views of zoological philosophy, and the report upon the Echino- 
derms is intended in common with the mem. on the Salpae to 
explain my views of Individuality among the lower animals — 
views which I mean to illustrate still further and enunciate still 
more clearly in my book that is to be.* They have met with 
approval from Carpenter, as you will see by the last edition of 
his Principles of Physiology, and I think that Forbes and some 
others will be very likely eventually to come round to them, but 
everything that relates to abstract thought is at a low ebb among 
the mass of naturalists in this country. 

In the paper upon " Thalassicolla," and in that which I read 
before the British Association, as also in one upon the organisa- 
tion of the Rotifera, which I am going to have published in the 
Microscopical Society's Transactions , I have been driving in 
a series of wedges into Cuvier's Radiata, and showing how selon 
mot they ought to be distributed. 

I am every day becoming more and more certain that you 
were on the right track thirty years ago in your views of the 
order and s)rmmetry to be traced in the true natural system. 

During the next session I mean to send in a paper to the 
R.S. upon the " Homologies of the Mollusca," which shall 
astonish them. I want to get done for the Mollusca what 
Savigny did for the Articulata, viz. to show how they all — 
Cephalopoda, Gasteropoda, Pteropoda, Heteropoda, etc. — are 
organised on one type, and how the homologous organs are 
modified in each. What with this and the book, I shall have 
enough to do for the next six months. 

You will doubtless ask what is the practical outlook of all 
this? whether it leads anywhere in the direction of bread and 
cheese ? To this also I can g^ve a tolerably satisfactory answer. 

As you won't have a Professor of Natural History at Syd- 
ney — ^to my great sorrow — I have gone in as a candidate for a 
Professorial chair at the other end of the world, Toronto in 
Canada. In England there is nothing to be done — it is the most 
hopeless prospect I know of; of course the Service oflFers noth- 
ing for me except irretrievable waste of time, and the scientific 
appointments are so few and so poor that they are not tempt- 
ing. . . . 

Had the Sydney University been carried out as originally 
proposed, I should certainly have become a candidate for the 

* He lectured on this subject at the Royal Institution in 1852. 


Natural History Chair. I know no finer field for exertion for 
any naturalist than Sydney Harbour itself. Should such a Pro- 
fessorship be hereafter established, I trust you will jog the 
memory of my Australian friends in my behalf. I have finally 
decided that my vocation is science, and I have made up my 
mind to the comparative poverty which is its necessary adjunct, 
and to the no less certain seclusion from the ordinary pleasures 
and rewards of men. I say this without the slightest idea that 
there is anything to be enthusiastic about in either science or 
its professors. A year behind the scenes is quite enough to 
disabuse one of all rose-pink illusions. 

But it is equally clear to me that for a man of my tempera- 
ment, at any rate, the sole secret of getting through this life 
with anything like contentment is to have full scope for the 
development of one's faculties. Science alone seems to me to 
afford this scope — Law, Divinity, Physic, and Politics being in 
a state of chaotic vibration between utter humbug and utter 

There is a great stir in the scientific world at present about 
who is to occupy Konig's place at the British Museum, and 
whether the whole establishment had better not, quoad Zoology, 
b^ remodelled and placed under Owen's superintendence. The 
heart-burnings and jealousies about this matter are beyond all 
conception. Owen is both feared and hated, and it is predicted 
that if Gray and he come to be officers of the same institution, 
in a year or two the total result will be a caudal vertebra of 
each remaining after the manner of the Kilkenny cats. 

However, I heard yesterday, upon what professed to be very 
good authority, that Owen would not leave the College under 
any circumstances. 

It is astonishing with what an intense feeling of hatred 
Owen is regarded by the majority of his contemporaries, with 
Mantell as arch-hater. The truth is, he is the superior of most, 
and does not conceal that he knows it, and it must be confessed 
that he does some very ill-natured tricks now and then. A 
striking specimen of one is to be found in his article on Lyell 
in the last Quarterly, where he pillories poor Quekett — a most 
inoffensive man and his own immediate subordinate — in a man- 
ner not more remarkable for its severity than for its bad taste. 
That review has done him 'much harm in the estimation of 
thinking men — and curiously enough, since it was written, rep- 
tiles have been found in the old red sandstone, and insectivo- 
rous mammals in the Trias ! Owen is an able man, but to my 


mind not so great as he thinks himself. He can only work in 
the concrete from bone to bone, in abstract reasoning he be- 
comes lost — witness " Parthenogenesis " which he told me he 
considered one of the best things he had done ! 

He has, however, been very civil to me, and I am as grate- 
ful as it is possible to be towards a man with whom I feel it 
necessary to be always on my guard. 

Quite another being is the other leader of Zoological Science 
in this country — I mean Edward Forbes, Paleontologist to the 
Geological Survey. More especially a Zoologist and a Geologist 
than a Comparative Anatomist, he has more claims to the title 
of a Philosophic Naturalist than any man I know of in England. 
A man of letters and an artist, he has not merged the man in the 
man of science — ^he has sympathies for all, and an earnest, truth- 
seeking, thoroughly genial disposition which win for him your 
affection as well as your respect. Forbes has more influence by 
his personal weight and example upon the rising generation of 
scientific naturalists than Owen will have if he write from now 
till Doomsday. 

Personally I am greatly indebted to him (though the opinion 
I have just expressed is that of the world in general). During 
my absence he superintended the publication of my paper, and 
from the moment of my arrival until now he has given me all 
the help one man can give another. Why he should have done 
so I do not know, as when I left England I had only spoken 
to him once. 

The rest of the naturalists stand far below these two in 
learning, originality, and grasp of mind. Goodsir of Edinburgh 
should I suppose come next, but he can't write intelligibly. Dar- 
win might be anything if he had good health. Bell is a good man 
in all the senses of the word, but wants qualities 2 and 3. New- 
port is a laborious man, but wants i and 3. Grant and Rymer 
Jones — arcades amho — have mistaken their vocation. 

My old chief Richardson is a man of men, but troubles him- 
self little with anything but detail zoology. What think you of 
his getting married for the third time just before his last ex- 
pedition? I hardly know by which step he approved himself 
the bolder man. 

I think I have now fulfilled my promise of supplying you 
with a little scientific scandal — and if this long epistle has repaid 
your trouble in getting through it, I am content. 

Believe me, I have not forgotten, nor ever shall forget, your 
kindness to me at a time when a little appreciation and encour- 


agement were more grateful to me and of more service than 
they will perhaps ever be again. I have done my best to jus- 
tify you. 

I send copies of all the papers I have published with one 
exception, of which I have none separate. Of the Royal Society 
papers I send a double set Will you be kind enough to give 
one with my kind regards and remembrances to Dr. Nicholson ? 
I feel I ought to have written to him before leaving Sydney, 
but I trust he will excuse my not having done so. 

I shall be very glad if you can find time to write. — Ever 
yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

W. Macleay, Esq. 

PS. — Muller has just made a most extraordinary discovery, 
no less than the generation of Molluscs from Holothuriae! ! ! 
You will find a translation of his paper by me in the Annals for 
January 1852. 
Dec. 13, 1851. 

To HIS Sister 

Maj^ 20, 185 1. 

. . . Owen has been amazingly civil to me, and it was 
through his writing to the First Lord that I got my present 
appointment. He is a queer fish, more odd in appearance than 
ever . . • and more bland in manner. He is so frightfully polite 
that I never feel thoroughly at home with him. He got me to 
furnish him with sonae notes for the second edition of the 
Admiralty Manual of Scientific Inquiry, and I find that in it 
Darwin and I (comparisons are odorous) figure as joint au- 
thorities on some microscopic matters ! I 

Professor Forbes, however, is my great ally, a first-rate man, 
thoroughly in earnest and disinterested, and ready to give his 
time and influence — which is great — to help any man who is 
working for the cause. To him I am indebted for the super- 
vision of papers that were published in my absence, for many 
introductions, and most valuable information and assistance,- 
and all done in such a way as not to oppress one or give one 
any feeling of patronage, which you know (so much do I retain 
of my old self) would not suit me. My notions are diametrically 
opposed to his in some matters, and he helps me to oppose him. 
The other night, or rather nights, for it took three, I had a long 
paper read at the Royal Society which opposed some of his 
views, and he got up and spoke in the highest terms of it aftef- 



y^ards. This is all as it should be. I can reverence such a 
man and yet respect myself. 

I have been aspiring to great honours since I wrote to you 
last, to wit the F.R.S., and found no little to my astonishment 
that I had a chance of it, and so went in. I must tell you that 
they have made the admission more difficult than it used to be. 
Candidates are not elected by the Society alone, but fifteen 
only a year are selected by a committee, and then elected as a 
matter of course by the Society. This year there were thirty- 
eight candidates. I did not expecf to come in till next year, but 
I find I am one of the selected. I fancy I shall be the junior 
Fellow by some years. Singularly enough, among the non- 
selected candidates were Ward, the man who conducted the 
Botanical Honours Examination of Apothecaries' Hall nine 
years ago, and Bryson, the surgeon of the Fisguard, i,e, nomi- 
nally my immediate superior, and who, as he frequently acts 
as Sir Wm. Burnett's deputy, will very likely examine me when 
I pass for Surgeon R,N.!! That is awkward and must be an- 
noying to him, but it is not my fault. I did not ask for a single 
name that appeared upon my certificate. Owen's name and 
Carpenter's, which were to have been appended, were not added. 
Forbes, my recommender, told me beforehand not to expect to 
get in this year, and did not use his influence, and so I have 
no intriguing to reproach myself with or to be reproached with. 
The only drawback is that it will cost me £14, which is more 
than I can very well afford. 

By the way, I have not told you that after staying for about 
five months with George, I found that if I meant to work in 
earnest his home was not the place, so, much to my regret, — 
for they made me very happy there, — I summoned resolution 
and The Boy's Own Book and took a den of my own, whence 
I write at present. You had better, however, direct to George, 
as I am going to move and don't know how long I may remain 
at my next habitation. At present I am living in the Pailc RosmI* 
but I find it too noisy and am going to St. Anne's Gardens, St 
John's Wood, close to my mother's, against whose forays I 
shall have to fortify myself. 

It was a minor addition to his many troubles that after a 
• time Huxley found a grudging and jealous spirit exhibited 
in some quarters towards his success, and influence used to 
prevent any further advance that might endanger the exist- 
ing balance of power in the scientific world. But this could 


be battled with directly; indeed it was rather a relief to 
have an opportunity for action instead of sitting still to wait 
the results of uncertain elections. The qualities requisite for 
such a contest he possessed, in a high ideal of the dignity o£ 
science as an instrument of truth ; a standard of veracity in 
scientific workers to which all should subordinate their per- 
sonal ambitions ; a disregard of authority as such unless its 
claims were verified by indisputable fact; and as a begin- 
ning, the will to subject himself to his own most rigid canons 
of accuracy, thoroughness, and honesty ; then to maintain 
his principle and defend his position against all attempts at 

March 5, 1852. 

I told you I was very busy, and I must tell you what I am 
about and you will believe me. I have just finished a Memoir 
for the Royal Society,* which has taken me a world of time, 
thought, and reading, and is, perhaps, the best thing I have done 
yet It will not be read till May, and I do not know whether 
they will print it or not afterwards; that will require care and 
a little manoeuvring on my part. You have no notion of the 
intrigues that go on in this blessed world of science. Science is, 
I fear, no purer than any other region of human activity ; though 
it should be. Merit alone is very little good ; it must be backed 
by tact and knowledge of the world to do very much. 

For instance, I know that the paper I have just sent in is 
very original and of some importance, and I am equally sure that 

if it is referred to the judgment of my " particular friend " 

that it will not be published. He won't be able to say a word 
against it, but he will pooh-pooh it to a dead certainty. 

You will ask with some wonderment. Why? Because for 
the last twenty years has been regarded as the great au- 
thority on these matters, and has had no one to tread on his 
heels, until at last, I think, he has come to look upon the Natural 
World as his special preserve, and " no poachers allowed." So 
I must manoeuvre a little to get my poor memoir kept out 01 
his hands. 

The necessity for these little stratagems utterly disgusts me. 
I would so willingly reverence and trust any man of high stand- 
ing and ability. I am so utterly unable to comprehend this petty 

♦ ** On the Morphology of the Ce'phalous Mollusca/ ' ScientiJU 
Memoirs ^ vol. 1. p. 152. 


greediness. And yet withal you will smile at my perversity. I 
have a certain pleasure in overcoming these obstacles, and fight- 
ing these folks with their own weapons. I do so long to be able 
to trust men implicitly. I have sudi a horror of all this literary 
pettifogging. I could be so content myself, if the necessity of 
making a position would allow it, to work on anonymously, but 

I see is determined not to let either me or any one else 

rise if he can help it. Let him beware. On my own subjects 
I am his master, and am quite ready to fight half a dozen 
dragons. And although he has a bitter pen, I flatter myself that 
on occasions I can match him in that department also. 

But I was telling you how busy I am. I am getting a 
memoir ready for the Zoological Society, and working at my 
lecture for the Royal Institution, which I want to make striking 
and original, as it is a good opportunity, besides doing a trans- 
lation now and then for one of the Journals. Besides this, I 
am working at the British Museum to make a catalogue of some 
creatures there. All these things take a world of time and 
labour, and yield next to no direct profit ; but they bring me into 
contact with all sorts of men, in a very independent position, 
and I am told, and indeed hope, that something must arise from 
it. So fair a prospect opens out before me if I can only wait. 
I am beginning to know what work means, and see how 
much more may be done by steady, unceasing, and well-directed 
efforts. I thrive upon it too. I am as well as ever I was in 
my life, and the more I work the better my temper seems to be. 

April 30, 1852, III P.M. 

I have just returned from giving my lecture * at the Royal 
Institution, of which I told you in my last letter. 

I had got very nervous about it, and my poor mother's death 
had greatly upset my plans for working it out. 

It was the first lecture I had ever given in my life, and to 
what is considered the best audience in London. As nothing 
ever works up my energies but a high flight, I had chosen a 
very difficult abstract point, in my view of which I stand almost 
alone. When I took a glimpse into the theatre and saw it full 
of faces, I did feel most amazingly uncomfortable. I can now 
quite understand what it is to be going to be hanged, and noth- 
ing but the necessity of the case prevented me from running 

* " On Animal Individuality," ScUnti/u Mtmoirs^ vol. i. p. 146, cp. 
p. 88, supra. 


However, when the hour struck, in I marched, and began to 
deliver my discourse. For ten minutes I did not quite know 
where I was, but by degrees I got used to it, and gradually 
gained perfect command of myself and of my subject. I believe 
I contrived to interest my audience, and upon the wliole I think 
I may say that this essay was successful. 

Tliank Heaven I can say so, for though it is no great matter 
succeeding, failing would have been a bitter annoyance to me. 
It has put me comfortably at my ease with regard to all future 
lecturings. After the Royal Institution there is no audience I 
shall ever fear. 

May 9. 

The foolish state of excitement into which I allowed myself 
to get the other day completely did for me, and I have hardly 
done anything since except sleep a great deal. It is a strange 
thing that with all my will I cannot control my physical organi- 

To HIS Sister 

April 17, 1852. 

... I fear nothing will have prepared you to hear that one 
so active in body and mind as our poor mother was has been 
taken from us. But so it is. . . . 

It was very strange that before leaving London my mother, 
possessed by a strange whim, as I thought, distributed to many 
of us little things belonging to her. I laughed at her for what 
I called her " testamentary disposition," little dreaming that the 
words were prophetic. 

[The summons to those of the family in London reached 
them late, and their arrival was made still later by inconvenient 
trains and a midnight drive, so that all had long been over when 
they came to Earning in Kent, where the elder Huxleys had 
just settled near their son James.] 

Our mother had died at half-past four, falling gradually 
into a more and more profound insensibility. She was thus 
happily spared the pain of fruitlessly wishing us round her, in 
her last moments; and as the hand of Death was upon her, I 
know not that it could have fallen more lightly. 

I oflFer you no consolation, my dearest sister, for I know of 
none. There are things which each must bear as he best may 
with the strength that has been allotted to him. Would that I 
were near you to soften the blow by the sympathy which we 
should have in common. ... 


May 3, 1852. 

So much occupation has crowded upon me between the be- 
ginning of this letter and the present time that I have been 
unable to finish it I had undertaken to give a lecture at the 
Royal Institution on the 30th April. It was on a difficult sub- 
ject, requiring a good deal of thought; and as it was my first 
appearance and before the best audience in London, you may 
imagine how anxious and nervous I was, and how completely I 
was obliged to abstract my thoughts from everything else. 

However, I am happy to say it is well over. There was a 
very good audience — Faraday, Prof. Forbes, Dr. Forbes, 
Wharton Jones, and [a] whole lot of " nobs," among my audi- 
tors. I had made up my mind all day to break down, and then 
go and hang myself privately. And so you may imagine that 
I entered the theatre with a very pale face, and a heart beating 
like a sledge-hammer nineteen to the dozen. For the first five 
minutes I did not know very clearly what I was about, but by 
degrees I got possession of myself and of my subject, and did 
not care for anybody. I have had "golden opinions from all 
sorts of men " about it, so I suppose I may tell you I have suc- 
ceeded. I don't think, however, that I ever felt so thoroughly 
used up in my life as I did for two days afterwards. There is 
one comfort, I shall never be nervous again about any audience ; 
but at one's first attempt, to stand in the place of Faraday and 
such big-wigs might excuse a little weakness. 

The way is clear before me, if my external circumstances 
will only allow me to persevere; but I fully expect that I shall 
have to give up my dreams. 

Science in England does everything — but .pay. You may 
earn praise but not pudding. 

I have helping hands held out to me on all sides, but there 
is nothing to help me to. Last year I became a candidate for a 
Professorship at Toronto. I took an infinity of trouble over 
the thing, and got together a mass of testimonials and recom- 
mendations, much better than I had any right to expect. From 
that time to this I have heard nothing of the business — a result 
for which I care the less, as I believe the chair will be given 
to a brother of one of the members of the Canadian ministry, 
who is, I hear, a candidate. Such a qualification as that is, of 
course, better than all the testimonials in the world. 

I think I told you when I last wrote that I was expecting a 
grant from Government to publish the chief part of my work, 
done while away. I am expecting it still. I got tired of waiting 


the other day and wrote to the Duke of Northumberland, who 
is at present First Lx)rd of the Admiralty, upon the subject. 
His Grace has taken the matter up, and I hope now to get it 

With all this, however. Time runs on. People look upon 
me, I suppose, as a 'Wery promising young man,'' and perhaps 
envy my " success," and I all the while am cursing my stars 
that my Pegasus wUl fly aloft instead of pulling slowly along 
in some respectable gig, and getting his oats like any other 
praiseworthy cart-horse. 

It's a charming piece of irony altogether. It is two years 
yesterday since I left Sydney harbour — and of course as long 
since I saw Nettie. I am getting thoroughly tired of our sepa- 
ration, and I think she is, though the dear little soul is ready to 
do anything for my sake, and yet I dare not face the stagnation 
— the sense of having failed in the whole purpose of my exist- 
ence — ^which would, I know, sooner or later beset me, even with 
her, if I forsake my present object Can you wonder with all 
this, my dearest Lizzie, that often as I long for your brave heart 
and clear head to support and advise me, I yet rarely feel in- 
clined to write? Pray write to me more often than you have 
done; tell me all about yourself and the Doctor and your chil- 
dren. They must be growing up fast, and Florry must be get- 
ting beyond the " Bird of Paradise " I promised her. Love 
and kisses to all of them, and kindest remembrances to the Doc- 
tor. — Ever your affectionate brother, T. H. Huxley. 

To Miss Heathorn 

iViw. 13, 1852. 

Going last week to the Royal Society's library for a book, 
and like the boy in church " thinkin' o' naughten," when I went 
in, Weld, the Assistant Secretary, said, " Well, I congratulate 
you." I confess I did not see at that moment what any mortal 
man had to congratulate me about. I had a deuced bad cold, 
with rheumatism in my head; it was a beastly November day 
and I was very grumpy, so I inquired in a state of mild sur- 
prise what might be the matter. Whereupon I learnt that the 
Medal had been conferred at the meeting of the Council on the 
day before. I was very pleased . . . and I thought you would 
be so too, and I thought moreover that it was a fine lever to 
help us on, and if I could have sent a letter to you immediately 
I should have sat down and have written one to you on the spot. 


As it is I have waited for official confirmation and a convenient 

And now . . . shall I be very naughty and make a con- 
fession? The thing that a fortnight ago (before I got it) I 
thought so much of, I give you my word I do not care a pin 
for. I am sick of it and ashamed of having thought so much 
of it, and the congratulations I get give me a sort of internal 
sardonic grin. I think this has come about partly because I 
did not get the official confirmation of what I had heard for 
some days, and with my habit of facing the ill side of things 
I came to the conclusion that Weld had made a mistake, and I 
went in thought through the whole enormous mortification of 
having to explain to those whom I had mentioned it that it was 
quite a mistake. I found that all this, when I came to look at 
it, was by no means so dreadful as it seemed — quite bearable in 
short — and then I laughed at myself and have cared nothing 
about the whole concern ever since. In truth ... I do not 
think that I am in the proper sense of the word ambitious. I have 
an enormous longing after the highest and best in all shapes — 
a longing which haunts me and is the demon which ever impels 
me to work, and will let me have no rest unless I am doing his 
behests. The honours of men I value so far as they are evi- 
dences of power, but with the cynical mistrust of their judg- 
ment and my own worthiness, which always haunts me, I put 
very little faith in them. Their praise makes me sneer inwardly. 
God forgive me if I do them any great wrong. 

... I feel and know that all the rewards and honours in the 
world will ever be worthless for me as soon as they are obtained. 
I know that always, as now, they will make me more sad than 
joyful. I know that nothing that could be done would give me 
the pure and heartfelt joy and peace of mind that your love has 
given me, and, please God, shall give for many a long year to 
come, and yet my demon says work ! work ! you shall not even 
love unless you work. 

Not blinded by any vanity, then, I hope . . . but viewing 
this stroke of fortune as respects its public estimation only, I 
think I must look upon the award of this medal as the turning- 
point of my life, as the finger-post teaching me as clearly as 
anything can what is the true career that lies open before me. 
For whatever may be my own private estimation of it, there can 
be no doubt as to the general feeling about this thing, and in 
case of my candidature for any office it would have the very 
greatest weight. And as you will have seen by my last letter, 


it only strengthens and confirms the conclusion I had come to. 
Bid me God-speed then ... it is all I want to labour cheerfully. 

Nov. 28. 

. . . You will hear all the details of the Great Duke's state 
funeral from the papers much better than I can tell you them. 
I went to the Cathedral (St. Paul's) and had the good fortune 
to get a capital seat — ^in front, close to the great door by which 
every one entered. It was bitter cold, a keen November wind 
blowing right in, and as I was there from eight till three, I 
expected nothing less than rheumatic fever the next day ; how- 
ever I didn't get it. It was pitiful to see the poor old Marquis 
of Anglesey — a year older than the Duke — standing with bare 
head in the keen wind close to me for more than three quarters 
of an hour. It was impressive enough — the great interior 
lighted up by a single line of light running along the whole cir- 
cuit of the cornice, and another encircling the dome, and casting 
a curious illumination over the masses of uniforms which filled 
the great space. The best of our people were there and passed 
close to me, but the only face that made any great impression 
upon my memory was that of Sir Chas. Napier, the conqueror 
of Scinde. Fancy a very large, broad-winged, and fierce-look- 
ing hawk in uniform. Such an eye ! 

When the coffin and the mourners had passed I closed up 
with the soldiers and went up under the dome, where I heard 
the magnificent service in full perfection. 

All of it, however, was but stage trickery compared with the 
noble simplicity of the old man's life. How the old stoic, used 
to his iron bed and hard hair pillow, would have smiled at all 
the pomp— submitting to that, however, and all other things 
necessary to the " carrying on of the Queen's Government." 

I send Tennyson's ode by way of packing — it is not worth 
much more, the only decent passages to my mind being those 
I have marked. 

The day after to-morrow I go to have my medal presented 
and to dine and make a speech. 

The Royal Medal was conferred on November 30, and 
the medallists were entertained at the anniversary dinner of 
the Society on that day. In the words with which the 
President, the Earl of Rosse, accompanied the presentation 
of the medal, " it is not difficult," writes Sir M. Foster, 
" reading between the lines, to recognise the appreciation of 


a new spirit of anatomical inquiry, not wholly free from a 
timorous apprehension as to its complete validity." * For 
the difference between this and the labours of the greatest 
English comparative anatomist of the time, whose detailed 
work was of the highest value, but whose generalisations 
and speculations, based on the philosophy of Oken, proved 
barren and fruitless, lay in the fact that Huxley, led to it 
doubtless by his solitary readings in his Charing Cross days, 
had taken up the method of von Baer and Johannes Miiller, 
then almost unknown, or at least unused in England — " the 
method which led the anatomist to face his problems in the 
spirit in which the physicist faced his." 

He had been warned by Forbes not to speak too strongly 
about the dilatoriness of the Government in the matter of 
the grant, so he writes : " I will * roar you like any sucking 
dove ' at the dinner, though I felt tempted otherwise." On 
December i he tells how he carried out this advice. 

MV DEAR Forbes — You will, I know, like to learn how I got 
on yesterday. The President's address to me had been drawn 
up by Bell. It was, of course, too flattering, but he had taken 
hold of the right points in my work — at least I thought so. 

Bunsen spoke very well for Humboldt. 

There was a capital congregation at the dinner — sixty or 
seventy Fellows there. . . . 

When it came to my turn to return thanks, I believe I made 
a very tolerable speechification, at least everybody says so. Lord 
Rosse had alluded to ** science having to take care of itself in 
this country," and in winding up I gave them a small screed 
upon that text. That you may see I kept your caution in mind, 
I will tell you as nearly as may be what I said. I told them 
that I could not conceive that anything I had hitherto done 
merited the honour of that day (I looked so preciously meek over 

♦ *'In these papers (on the Medusa) j'ou have for the first time 
fully developed their structure, and laid the foundation of a rational 
theory for their classification." ** In your second paper * On the Anat- 
omy of Sal pa and Pyrosoma,' the phenomena, etc., have received the 
most ingenious and elaborate elucidation, and have given rise to a 
process of reasoning, the results of which can scarcely yet be antici- 
pated, but must bear in a very important degree upon some of the 
most abstruse points of what may be called transcendental physiology.*' 
See I^oj^a/ Society, Obituary Notices, vol. lix. p. 1. 


this), but that I was glad to be able to say that I had so much 
unpublished material as to make me hopeful of one day dimin- 
ishing the debt. I then said, " The Government of this country, 
of this great country, has been two years debating whether it 
should grant the three hundred pounds necessary for the pub- 
lication of these researches. I have been too long used to strict 
discipline to venture to criticise any act of my superiors, but 
I venture to hope that before long, in consequence of the exer- 
tions of Lord Rosse, of the President of the British Association, 
and the goodwill, which I gratefully acknowledge, of the present 
Lord of the Admiralty, I shall be able to lay before you some- 
thing more worthy of to-day's award." 

I had my doubts how the nobs would take it, but both Lord 
Rosse and Sabine warmly commended my speech and regretted 
I had not said even more upon the subject. 

Some light is thrown upon his habits at this time by 
the following, part of his letter to Forbes of November 

I have frequent visits from . He is a good man, but 

direfully argumentative, and in that sense to me a bore. Be- 
sides that, the creature will come and call upon me at nhie or 
ten o'clock in the morning before I am out of bed, or if out of 
bed, before I am in possession of my faculties, which never 
arrive before twelve or one. 

This morning incapacity was of a piece with his hatred 
of the breakfast-party of the period. To go abroad from 
home or to do any work before breakfasting ensured him a 
headache for the rest of the day, so that he never was one 
of those risers with the dawn who do half a day's work be- 
fore the rest of the world is astir. And though necessity 
often compelled him to do with less, he always found eight 
hours his proper allowance of sleep. 

But in the end of 1853 we hear of a reform in his ways, 
after a bad bout of ill-health, when he rises at eight, goes to 
bed at twelve, and eschews parties of every kind as far as 
possible, with excellent results as far as health went. 

After his marriage, however, and indeed to the begin- 
ning of his last illness, he always rose early enough for an 
eight o'clock breakfast, after which the working day began, 
lasting regularly from a little after nine till midnight. 



4 Upper York Place, St. John's Wood, Feb, 6, 1853. 

Many thanks, my dearest sister, for your kind and thought- 
ful letter — it went to my heart no little that you, amidst all your 
trials and troubles, should find time to thiiUc so wisely and so 
affectionately of mine. Though greatly tempted otherwise, I 
have acted in the spirit of your advice, and my reward, in the 
shape of honours at any rate, has not failed me, as the Royal 
Society gave me one of the Royal medals last year. It's a 
higger one than I got under your auspices so many years ago, 
being worth £50, but I don't know that I cared so much about it. 

It was assigned to me quite unexpectedly, and in the eyes of 
the world I, of course, am greatly the bigger — but I will confess 
to you privately that I am by no means dilated, and am the 
identical Boy Tom I was before I achieved the attainment of 
my golden porter's badge. Curiously it was given for the first 
Memoir I have in the Royal Society's Transactions, sent home 
four years ago with no small fear and trembling, and, " after 
many days," returning with this queer crust of bread. In the 
speech I had to make at the Anniversary Dinner I grew quite 
eloquent on that point, and talked of the dove I had sent from 
my ark, returning, not with the olive branch, but with a sprig 
of th£ bay and a fruit from the garden of the Hesperides — a 
simile which I thought decidedly clever, but which the audi- 
ence — distinguished audience I ought to have said — ^probably 
didn't, as they did not applaud that, while they did some things 
I said which were incomparably more stupid. This was in No- 
vember, and I ought to have written to you about it before, my 
dear Lizzie, but for one thing I am very much occupied, and 
for the other (shall I confess it?) I was rather puzzled that 
I had not heard from you since I wrote. Now my useless con- 
science, which never makes me do anything right in time, is 
pitching in to me when it is too late. 

The medal, however, must not be jested at, as it is most 
decidedly of practical use in giving me a status in the eyes of 
those charming people, "practical men," such as I had not 
before, and I am amused to find some of my friends, whose con- 
tempt for my "dreamy" notions was not small in time past, 
absolutely advising me to take a far more dreamy course than 
I dare venture upon. However, I take very much my own 
course now, even as I have done before — Huxley all over. 

However, that is enough about myself just now. In the next 
letter I will tell you more at length about my plans and pros- 
pects, which are mostly, I am sorry to say, only provocative of 

i853 "CORN IN EGYPT" 115 

setting my teeth hard and saying, " Never mind, I will" But 
what I write in a hurry about and want you to do at once, is 
to write to me and tell me exactly how money may be sent safely 
to you. It is inexpedient to send without definite directions, 
according to the character you give your neighbours. Don't 
expect anything vast, but there is corn in Egypt. . . . 

Two classes of people can I deal with and no third. They 
are the good people — people after my own heart, and the thor- 
ough men of the world. Either of these I can act and sym- 
pathise with> but the others, who are neither for God nor for 
the Devil, but for themselves, as grim old Dante has it, and 
whom he therefore very justly puts in a most uncomfortable 
place, I cannot do with. . . . 

So Florry is growing up into a great girl ; the child will not 
remember me, but kiss her and my godson for me, and give my 
love to them all. The Lymph shall come in my next letter for 
the young Yankee. I hope the juices of the English cow will 
prevent him from ever acquiring the snuffle. 

Tell the Doctor all about the medal, with my kindest re- 
gards, and believe me, my dearest Lizzie, your affectionate 
brother, Tom. 

4 Upper York Place, St. John's Wood, April 22, 1853. 

My dearest Lizzie — First let me congratulate you on being 
safe over your troubles and in possession of another possible 
President I think it may be worth coming over twenty years 
hence on the possibility of picking up something or other from 
one of my nephews at Washington. 

[He sends some money.] Would it were more worth your 
having, but I have not as yet got on to Tom Tiddler's ground on 
this side of the water. You need not be alarmed about my 
having involved myself in any way — such portion of it as is 
of my sending has been conquered by mine own sword and 
spear, and the rest came from Mary.* . . . 

[After giving a summary of his struggle with the Admiralty, 
he proceeds] — If I were to tell you all the intriguing and hum- 
bug there has been about my unfortunate grant — which yet 
granted — it would occupy this letter, and though a very good 
illustration of the encouragement afforded to Science in this 
country, would not be very amusing. Once or twice it has fairly 
died out, only to be stirred up again by my own pertinacity. 
However, I have hopes of it at last, as I hear Lord Rosse is 

♦ Mrs. George Huxley. 


just about to make another application to the present Govern- 
ment on the subject. While this business has been dragging 
on of course I have not been idle. I have four memoirs (on 
various matters in Comparative Anatomy) in the Philosophical 
Transactions, and they have given me their Fellowship and one 
of the Royal medals. I have written a whole lot of things for 
the journals — reviews for the British and Foreign Quarterly 
Medical, etc. I am one of the editors of Taylor's Scientific 
Memoirs (German scientific translations). In conjunction with 
my friend Busk I am translating a great German book on the 
Microscopical Anatomy of Man, and I have engaged to write 
a long article for Todd's Cyclop<Bdia. Besides this, have read 
two long memoirs at the British Association, and have given 
two lectures at the Royal Institution — one of them only two days 
ago, when I was so ill with influenza I could hardly stand or 

Furthermore, I have been a candidate for a Professorship of 
Natural History at Toronto (which is not even yet decided) ; 
for one at Aberdeen, which has been given against me ; and at 
present I am a candidate for the Professorship of Physiology 
at King's College, or, rather, for half of it — Todd having given 
up, and Bowman, who remains, being willing to take only half, 
and that he will soon give up. My friend Edward Forbes — a 
regular brick, who has backed me through thick and thin — 
is backing me for King's College, where he is one of the Pro- 
fessors. My chance is, I believe, very good, but nothing can be 
more uncertain than the result of the contest. If they don't 
take one of their own men I think they will have me. It would 
suit me very well, and the whole chair is worth £400 a year, and 
would enable me. to live. 

Something I must make up my mind to do, and that speedily. 
I can get honour in Science, but it doesn't pay, and " honour 
heals no wounds." In truth I am often very weary. The 
longer one lives the more the ideal and the purpose vanishes 
put of one's life, and I begin to doubt whether I have done 
wisely in giving vent to the cherished tendency towards Science 
which has haunted me ever since my childhood. Had I given 
myself to Mammon I might have been a respectable member of 
society with large watch-seals by this time. I think it is very 
likely that if this King's College business goes against me, I 
may give up the farce altogether — ^bum my books, bum my 
rod, and take to practice in Australia. It is no use to go on 
kicking against the pricks. . . . 



The year 1854 marks the turning-point in Huxley's 
career. The desperate time of waiting came to an end. By 
the help of his lectures and his pen, he could at all events 
stand and wait independently of the Navy. He could not, 
of course, think of immediate marriage, nor of asking Miss 
Heathom to join him in England ; but it so happened that 
her father was already thinking of returning home, and 
finally this was determined upon just before ' Professor 
Forbes' translation to a chair at Edinburgh gave Huxley 
what turned out to be the long-hoped-for permanency in 

June 3. 1854. 

I have often spoken to you of my friend Edward Forbes. 
He has quite recently been suddenly appointed to a Professorial 
Chair in Edinburgh, vacated by the death of old Jamieson. He 
was obliged to go down there at once and lecture, and as he 
had just commenced his course at the Government School of 
Mines in Jerrayn Street, it was necessary to obtain a substitute. 
He had spoken to me of the possibility of his being called away 
long ago, and had asked if I would take his place, to which, 
of course, I assented, but the whole affair was so uncertain 
that I never in any way reckoned upon it. Even at last I did 
not know on the Monday whether I was to go on for him on 
the Friday or not. However, he did go after giving two lee-, 
hires, and on Friday the 2Sth May I took his lecture, and I 
have been going on ever since, twice a week on Mondays and 
Fridays. Called upon so very suddenly to give a course of some 
six and twenty lectures, I find it very hard work, but I like it 
and I never was in better health. 



On July 20, this temporary work, which he had under- 
taken as the friend of Forbes, was exchanged for one of the 
permanent lectureships formerly held by the latter. A hun- 
dred a year for twenty-six lectures was not affluence; it 
would have suited him better to have had twice the work 
and twice the pay. But it was his crossing of the Rubicon, 
and, strangely enough, no sooner had he gained this success 
than it was doubled. 

July 30. 1854. 

I was appointed yesterday to a post of £200 a year. It has 
all come about in the strangest way. I told you how my friend 
Forbes had been suddenly called away to Edinburgh, and that 
I had suddenly taken his duties — sharp work it has been I can 
tell you these summer months, but it is over and done satisfac- 
torily. Forbes got £500 a year, £200 for a double lectureship, 
£300 for another office. I took one of the lectureships, which 
would have given me £100 a year only, and another man was to 
have the second lectureship and the other office in question. It 
was so completely settled a week ago that I had written to the 
President of the Board of Trade who makes the appointment, ac- 
cepting mine, and the other man had done the same. Happily for 
me, however, my new colleague was suddenly afflicted with a 
sort of moral colic, an absurd idea that he could not perform 
the duties of his office, and resigned it The result is that a 
new man has been appointed to the office he left vacant, while 
the lectureship was offered to me. Of course I took it, and so 
in the course of the week I have seen my paid income doubled. 
... So after a short interval I have become a Government 
officer again, but in rather a different position I flatter my- 
self. I am chief of my own department, and my position is con- 
sidered a very good one — ^as good as anything of its kind in 

Furthermore, on August 1 1 he was " entrusted with 
the Coast Survey investigations under the Geological Sur- 
vey, and remunerated by fee until March 31, 1855, when he 
was ranked as Naturalist on the Survey with an additional 
salary of £200, afterwards increased to £400, rising to £600 
per annum," as the official statement has it. 

Then in quick succession he was offered in August a 
lectureship on Comparative Anatomy at St. Thomas' Hos- 
pital for the following May and June, and in September he 


was asked to lecture in November and March for the Sci- 
ence and Art Department at Marlborough House. 

Now therefore, with the Heathoms coming to England, 
his plans and theirs exactly fitted, and he proposed to get 
married as soon as they came over, early in the following 

A letter of this year deserves quoting as illustrating the 
directness of Huxley's dealings with his friends, and his 
hatred of doing anything unknown to them which might 
be misreported to them or misconstrued without explana- 
tion. As a member of the Royal Society Council, it was his 
duty to vote upon the persons to whom the yearly medals 
of the Society should be awarded. For the Royal Medal 
first Hooker was named, and received his hearty support; 
then Forbes, in opposition to Hooker, in his eyes equally 
deserving of recognition, and almost more closely bound 
to him by ties of friendship, so that whatever action he took, 
might be ascribed to motives which should have no part 
in such a selection. The course actually taken by him he 
explained at length in letters to both Forbes and Hooker. 

A'ov. 6, 1854. 

My dear Hooker — I have been so busy with lecturing here 
and there that I have not had time to write and congratulate you 
on the award of the medal. The queer position in which I was 
placed prevents me from being able to congratulate myself on 
having any finger in the pie, but I am quite sure there was no 
member of the Council who felt more strongly than myself that 
what honour the bauble could confer was most fully won, and no 
more than your just deserts; or who rejoiced more when the 
thing was settled in your favour. 

However, I do trust that I shall never be placed in such an 
awkward position again. I would have given a great deal to be 
able to back Forbes tooth and nail — not only on account of my 
personal friendship and affection for him, but because I think he 
well deserves such recognition. And had I thought right to do 
so, I felt sure that you would have fully appreciated my motives, 
and that it would have done no injury to our friendship. 

But as I told the Council I did not think this a case where 
either of you had any right to be excluded by the other. I told 
them that had Forbes been first named, I should have thought it 



injudicious to bring you forward, and that, as you were named, 
I for my own part should not have brought forward Forbes as 
a candidate; that therefore while willing to speak up to any 
extent for Forbes' positive merits and deserts, I would carefully 
be understood to give no opinion as to your and his relative 

They did not take much by my speech therefore either way, 
more especially as I voted for both of you. 

I hate doing anything of the kind " unbeknownst " to people, 
so there is the exact history of my proceedings. If I had been 
able to come to the clear conclusion that the claims of either 
of you were strongly superior to those of the other, I think I 
should have had the honesty and moral courage to " act ac- 
cordin*," but I really had not, and so there was no part to play 
but that of a sort of Vicar of Bray. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Forbes' reply was a letter which Huxley, after his friend's 
death, held " among his most precious possessions." It 
appeared without names in the obituary notice of Forbes in 
the Literary Gazette for November 25, 1854, as an example 
of his unselfish generosity : — 

I heartily concur in the course you have taken, and had I 
been placed as you have been, would have done exactly the 
same. . . . Your way of proceeding was as true an act of friend- 
ship as any that could be performed. As to myself, I dream so 
little about medals, that the notion of being on the list never 
entered my brain, even when asleep. If it ever comes I shall 
be pleased and thankful ; if it does not, it is not the sort of thing 
to break my equanimity. Indeed, I would always like to see it 
g^ven not as a mere honour, but as a help to a good man, and 
this it is assuredly in Hooker's case. Government people are 
so ignorant that they require to have merits drummed into their 
heads by all possible means, and Hooker's getting the medal 
may be of real service to him before long. I am in a snug, 
though not an idle, nest, — ^he has not got his resting-place yet. 
And so, my dear Huxley, I trust that you know me too well to 
think that I am either grieved or envious, and you. Hooker, 
and I are much of the same way of thinking. 

It is interesting to record the same scrupulosity over 
the election to the Registrarship of the University of Lon- 
don in 1856, when, having begun to canvass for Dr. Latham 

i853 HIS FRANKNESS 12 1 

before his friend Dr. W. B. Carpenter entered the field, he 
writes to Hooker : — 

I at once, of course, told Carpenter precisely what I had 
done. Had I known of his candidature earlier, I should cer- 
tainly have taken no active part on either side — not for Latham, 
because I would not oppose Carpenter, and not for Carpenter, 
because his getting the Registrarship would probably be an ad- 
vantage for me, as I should have a good chance of obtaining the 
Examinership in Physiology and Comparative Anatomy which 
he would vacate. Indeed, I refused to act for Carpenter in a 
case in which he asked me to do so, partly for this reason and 
partly because I felt thoroughly committed to Latham. Under 
these circumstances I think you are quite absolved from any 
pledge to me. It's deuced hard to keep straight in this wicked 
world, but as you say the only chance is to out with it, and I 
thank you much for writing so frankly about the matter. I hope 
it will be as fine as to-day at Down.* 

Unfortunately the method was not so successful with 
smaller minds. Once in 1852, when he had to report un- 
favourably on a paper for the Annals of Natural History on 
the structure of the Starfishes, sent in by an acquaintance, 
he felt it right not to conceal his action, as he might have 
done, behind the referee's usual screen of anonymity, but to 
write a frank account of the reasons which had led him so 
to report, that he might both clear himself of the suspicion 
of having dealt an unfair blow in the dark, and give his ac- 
quaintance the opportunity of correcting and enlarging his 
paper with a view of submitting it again for publication. 

In this case the only result was an irhpassioned corre- 
spondence, the author even going so far as to suggest that 
Huxley had condemned the paper without having so much 
as dissected an Echinoderm in his life ! and then all inter- 
course ceased, till years afterwards the gentleman in ques- 
tion realised the weaknesses of his paper and repented him 
of his wrath. 

Before leaving London to begin his work at Tenby as 
Naturalist to the Survey, he delivered at St. Martin's Hall, 
on July 22, an address on the " Educational Value of the 

* Charles Darwin's home in Kent. 


Natural History Sciences.* This, when it came out later as 
a pamphlet, he sent to his Tenby friend Dr. Dyster (of 
whom hereafter), to whose criticism on one passage he re- 
plied on October lo: — 

. . . — I am rejoiced you liked my speechment. It was 
written hastily and is, like its speaker, I fear, more forcible 
than eloquent, but it can lay claim to the merit of being sin- 

My intention on p. 28 was by no means to express any satis- 
faction at the worms being as badly off as ourselves, but to show 
that pain being everywhere is inevitable, and therefore like all 
other inevitable things to be borne. The rest of it is the product 
of my scientific Calvinism, which fell like a shell at your feet 
when we were talking over the fire. 

I doubt, or at least I have no confidence in, the doctrine of 
ultimate happiness, and I am more inclined to look the opposite 
possibility fully in the face, and if that also be inevitable, make 
up my mind to bear it also. 

You will tell me there are better consolations than Stoicism ; 
that may be, but I do not possess them, and I have found my 
" grin and bear it " philosophy stand me in such good stead in 
my course through oceans of disgust and chagrin, that I should 
be loth to give it up. 

The summer of 1854 was spent in company with the 
Busks at Tenby, amid plenty of open-air work and in great 
peace of mind, varied with a short visit to Liverpool in order 
to talk business with his friend Forbes, who was eager that 
Huxley should join him in Edinburgh. 

* The subsequent reference is to the words, ** I cannot but think 
that he who finds a certain proportion of pain and evil inseparably 
woven up in the life of the very worms will bear his own share with 
more courage and submission ; and will, at any rate, view with sus- 
picion those weakly amiable theories of the divine government, which 
would have us believe pain to be an oversight and a mistake, to be 
corrected by and by.** (Collected Essays, iii. p. 62.) This essay contains 
the definition of science as ** trained and organised common sense,** 
and the reference to a new "Peter Bell'* which suggested Miss May 
Kendall's spirited parody of Wordsworth :— 

Primroses by the river's brim 
Dicotyledons were to him, 
And they were nothing more. 


Tenbv, South Wales, Sept 3, 1854. 

I have been here since the middle of August, getting rid of 
my yellow face and putting on a brown one, banishing dys- 
pepsias and hypochondrias and all such other town afflictions to 
the four winds, and rejoicing exceedingly that I am out of the 
way of that pest, the cholera, which is raging just at present 
in London. 

After I had arranged to come here to do a lot of work of my 
own which can only be done by the seaside, our Director, Sir 
Henry de la Beche, gave me a special mission of his own 
whereby I have the comfort of having my expenses paid, but 
at the same time get it taken out of me in additional labour, so 
my recreation is anything but leisure. 

Oct. 14. 

I left this place for a week's trip to Liverpool in the end 
of September. The meeting of tJie British Association was held 
there, but I went not so much to be present as to meet Forbes, 
with whom I wanted to talk over many matters concerning us 
both. Forbes had a proposition that I should go to Edinburgh 
to take part of the duties of the Professor of Physiology there, 
who is in bad health, with the ultimate aim of succeeding to the 
chair. It was a tempting offer made in a flattering manner, 
and presenting a prospect of considerably better emolument 
than my special post, but it had the disadvantage of being but 
an uncertain position. Had I accepted, I should have been at 
the mercy of the actual Professor — ^and that is a position I don't 
like standing in, even with the best of men, and had he died 
or resigned at any time the Scotch chairs are so disposed of 
that there would have been nothing like a certainty of my get- 
ting the post, so I definitely declined — I hope wisely. 

After some talk, Forbes agreed with my view of the case, so 
he is off to Edinburgh, and I shall go off to London. I hope 
to remain there for my life long. 

He had long felt that London gave the best oppor- 
tunities for a scientific career, and it was on his advice that 
Tyndall had left Queenwood College for the Royal Institu- 
tion, where he was elected Professor of Natural Philosophy 
in 1853:— 

6 Upper York Place, St. John's Wood, 
Feb. 25. 1853. 
My dear Tyndall — Having rushed into more responsibility 
than I wotted of, I have been ruminating and taking counsel 


what advice to give you. When I wrote I hardly knew what 
kind of work you had in your present office, but Francis has 
since enlightened me. I thought you had more leisure. One 
thing is very clear — ^you must come out of that. Your Pegasus 
is quite out of place ploughing. You are using yourself up in 
work that comes to nothing, and so far as I can see cannot be 
worse oflF. 

Now what are your prospects ? Why, as I told you before, 
you have made a succks here and must profit by it. The other 
night your name was mention^ at the Philosophical Club (the 
most influential scientific body in London) with great praise. 
Gassiot, who has great influence, said in so many words, " you 
had made your fortune," and I frankly tell you I believe so too, 
if you can only get over the next three years. So you see that 
quoad position, like Quintus Curtius, there is a " fine opening ** 
ready for you, only mind you don't spoil it by any of your horrid 

So much for glory — ^now for economics. I have been try- 
ing to ferret out more nearly your chances of a post, and here 
are my restdts (which, I need not tell you, must be kept to 

At the Museum in Jermyn Street, Play fair, Forbes, Percy 
and I think Sir Henry would do anything to get you, and elimi- 
nate ; but, so far as I can judge, the probability of his 

going is so small that it is not worth your while to reckon upon 
it. Nevertheless it may be comforting to you to know that in 
case of anything happening these men will help you tooth and 
nail. Cultivate Playfair when you have a chance — ^he is a good 
fellow, wishes you well, has great influence, and will have more. 
Entre nous, he has just got a new and important post under 

Next, the Royal Institution. This is where, as I told you, 
you ought to be — looking to Faraday's place. Have no scruple 
about your chemical knowledge ; you won't be required to train a 
college of students in abstruse analyses; and if you were, a 
year's work would be quite enough to put you at ease. What 
they want, and what you have, are clear powers of exposition 
— so clear that people may think they understand even if they 
don't. That is the secret of Faraday's success, for not a tithe 
of the people who go to hear him really understand him. 

However, I am afraid that a delay must occur before you 
can get placed at the Royal Institution, as you cannot hold the 
Professorship until you have given a course of lectures there. 


and it would seem that there is no room for you this year. How- 
ever, I must try and learn more about this. 

Under these circumstances the London Institution looks 
tempting. I have been talking over the matter with Forbes, 
whose advice I look upon as first-rate in all these things, and 
he is decidedly of the opinion that you should take the London 
Institution if it is offered you. He says that lecturing there 
and lecturing at other Institutions, and writing, you could with 
certainty make more than you at present receive, and that you 
would have the command of a capital laboratory and plenty of 

Then as to position — of which I was doubtful — it appears 
that Grove has made it a good one. 

It is of great importance to look to this point in London — to 
be unshackled by anything that may prevent you taking the 
highest places, and it was only my fear on this head that made 
me advise you to hesitate about the London Institution. More 
consideration leads me to say, take that, if it will bring you up 
to London at once, so that you may hammer your reputation 
while it is hot. 

However, consider all these things well, and don't be hasty. 
I will keep eyes and ears open and inform you accordingly. 
Write to me if there is anything you want done, supposing 
always there is nobody who will do it better — ^which is im- 
probable. — Ever yours, T. H. Huxley. 

But this year of victory was not to pass away without 
one last blow from fate. On November 18, Edward Forbes, 
the man in whom Huxley had found a true friend and 
helper, inspired by the same ideals of truth and sincerity 
as himself, died suddenly at Edinburgh. The strong but 
delicate ties that united them were based not merely upon 
intellectual affinity, but upon the deeper moral kinship of 
two strong characters, where each subordinated interest to 
ideal, and treated others by the measure of his own self- 
respect. As early as March 1851 he had written : — 

I wish you knew my friend Prof. Forbes. He is the best 
creature you can imagine, and helps me in all manner of ways. 
A man of very great knowledge, he is wholly free from pedantry 
and jealousy, the two besetting sins of literary and scientific 
men. Up to his eyes in work, he never grudges his time if it 
is to help a friend. He is one of the few men I have ever met 


to whom I can feel obliged, without losing a particle of inde- 
l>endence or self-respect. 

The following from a letter to Hooker, announcing 
Forbes' death, is a striking testimony to his worth : — 

I think I have never felt so crushed by anything before. 
It is one of those losses which cannot be replaced either to the 
private friend or to science.- To me especially it is a bitter loss. 
Without the aid and sympathy he has always given me from 
first to last, I should never have had the courage to persevere 
in the course I have followed. And it was one of my greatest 
hopes that we should work in harmony for long years at the 
aims so dear to us both. 

But it is otherwise, and we who remain have nothing left 
but to bear the inevitable as we best may. 

And again a few days later: — 

I have had no time to write to you again till now, but I write 
to say how perfectly you express my own feeling about our poor 
friend. One of the first things I thought of was that medal 
business,* and I never rejoiced in anything more than that I 
had not been deterred by any moral cowardice from acting as 
I did. 

As it is I reckon that letter (which I will show you some 
day) among my most precious possessions. 

Huxley's last tribute to his dead friend was the organ- 
ising a memorial fund, part of which went to getting a bust 
of him made, part to establishing an Edward Forbes medal, 
to be competed for by the students of his old school in 
Jermyn Street. 

As Huxley had been Forbes' successor at Jermyn Street, 
so now he seemed to many marked out to succeed him at 
Edinburgh. In November he writes to Hooker : — 

People have been at me about the Edinburgh chair. If I 
could contrive to stop here, between you and I, I would prefer it 
to half a dozen Edinburgh chairs, but there is a mortal difference 
between £200 and £1000 a year. I have written to say that if 
the Professors can make up their minds they wish me to stand, I 
will — if not, I will not. For my own part, I believe my chances 

♦ P. 119. 


would be very small, and I think there is every probability of 
their dividing the chair, in which case I certainly would not go. 
However, I hate thinking about the thing. 

And also to his sister : — 

Nov, 26, 1854. 

My dearest Lizzie — I feel I have been silent very long — a 
great deal too long — ^but you would understand if you knew how 
much I have to do ; why, with every disposition to do otherwise, 
I now write hardly any but business letters. Even Nettie comes 
off badly I am afraid. When a man embarks as I have done, 
with nothing but his brains to back him, on the great sea of life 
in London, with the determination to make the influence and the 
position and the money which he hasn't got, you may depend 
upon it that the fierce wants and interests of his present and 
immediate circle leave him little time to think of anything else, 
whatever old loves and old memories may be smouldering as 
warmly as ever below the surface. So, sister mine, you must 
not imagine because I do not write that therefore I do not think 
of you or care to know about you, but only that I am eaten up 
with the zeal of my own house, and doing with all my heart the 
thing that the moment calls for. 

The last year has been eventful for me. There is always 
a Cape Horn in one's life that one either weathers or wrecks 
one's self on. Thank God I think I may say I have weathered 
mine — ^not without a good deal of damage to spars and rigging 
though, for it blew deuced hard on the other side. 

At the commencement of this year my affairs came to a 
crisis. The Government, notwithstanding all the representa- 
tions which were made to them, would neither give nor refuse 
the grant for the publication of my work, and by way of cutting 
short all further discussion the Admiralty called upon me to 
serve. A correspondence ensued, in which, as commonly hap- 
pens in these cases, they got the worst of it in logic and words, 
and I in reality and "tin." They answered my syllogism by 
the irrelevant and absurd threat of stopping my pay if I did not 
serve at once. Here was a pretty business ! However, it was 
no use turning back when so much had been sacrificed for one's 
end, so I put their Lordships' letter up on my mantelpiece and 
betook myself to scribbling for my bread. They, on the other 
hand, removed my name from the List. So there was an inter- 
regnum when I was no longer in Her Majesty's service. I had 
already joined the Westminster Review, and had inured myself 


to the labour of translation — and I could get any amount of 
scientific work I wanted — so there was a living, though a 
scanty one, and amazingly hard work for it. My pen is not 
a very facile one, and what I write costs me a good deal of 

In the spring of this year, however, a door opened. My 
poor lost friend Professor Forbes — ^whose steady attachment and 
aid had always been of the utmost service to me — ^was called 
to fill the chair of Natural History in Edinburgh at a moment's 
notice. It is a very valuable appointment, and he was obliged 
to fill it at once. Of course he left a number of vacancies be- 
hind, among them one at the Government School of Mines in 
Jermyn Street, where he lectured on Natural History. I was 
called upon to take up his lectures where he left off, in the same 
sudden way, and the upshot of it all was that I became perma- 
nently attached — with £200 a year pay. In other ways I can 
make a couple of hundred a year more even now, and I hope 
by-and-by to do better. In fact, a married man, as I hope soon 
to be, cannot live at all in the position which I ought to occupy 
under less than six hundred a year. If I keep my health, how- 
ever, I have every hope of being able to do this — but, as the 
jockeys say, the pace is severe. Nettie is coming over in the 
spring, and if I have any luck at all, I mean to have paid off 
my debts and to be married by this time next year.* 

In the meanwhile, strangely enough — and very painfully for 
me — ^new possibilities have sprung up. My poor friend Forbes 
died only a week ago, just as he was beginning his course and 
entering upon as brilliant a career as ever was opened to any 
scientific man in this country. 

I cannot tell you how deeply this has shocked me. I owe him 
so much, I loved him so well, and I have so very very few 
friends in the true sense of the word, that it has been perhaps 

* He writes on July 21, 1851 : — ** I commenced life upon nothing at 
all, and I had to borrow in the ordinary way from an agent for the 
necessary expenses of my outfit. I sent home a great deal of money, 
but notwithstanding, from the beautiful way they have of accumu- 
lating interest and charges of one description and another, I found 
myself jf 100 in debt when I returned — besides something to my broth- 
er, about which, however, I do not suppose I need trouble myself just 
at present. As you may imagine, living in London, my pay now 
hardly keeps me, to say nothing of paying off my old scores. I could 
get no account of how things were going on with my agent while I 
was away, and therefore I never could tell exactly how I stood." 


a greater loss to me than to any one — although there never was 
a man so widely lamented. One could trust him so thoroughly ! 
However, he has gone, poor fellow, and there is nothing for it 
but to shut one's self up again — and I was only going to say 
that his death leaves his post vacant, and I have been strongly 
urged to become a candidate for it by several of the most influ-r 
ential Edinburgh Professors. I am greatly puzzled what to do. 
I do not want to leave London, nor do I think much of my own 
chances of success if I become a candidate — though others do. 
On the other hand, a stipend which varies between £800 and 
£1200 a year is not to be pooh-poohed. 

We shall see. If I can carry out some arrangements which 
are pending with the Government to increase my pay to £400 a 
year, I shall be strongly tempted to stop in London. It is the 
place, the centre of the world. 

In the meanwhile, as things always do come in heaps, I 
obtained my long-fought-for Grant — ^though indirectly — from 
the Government, which is, I think, a great triumph and vindi- 
cation of the family motto — tenax propositi. Like many long- 
sought-for blessings, however, it is rather a bore now I have it, 
as I don't see how I am to find time to write the book. But 
things " do themselves " in a wonderful way. I'll tell you how 
many irons I have in the fire at this present moment: — (i) a 
manual- of Comparative Anatomy for Churchill; (2) my 
•* Grant" book; (3) a book for the British Museum people 
(half done) ; (4) an article for Todd's Cyclopcsdia (half done) ; 
(5) sundry memoirs on Science; (6) a regular Quarterly arti- 
cle in the Westminster; (7) lectures at Jermyn Street in the 
School of Mines; (8) lectures at the School of Art, Marlbor- 
ough House; (9) lectures at the London Institution, and odds 
and ends. Now, my dearest Lizzie, whenever you feel inclined 
to think it unkind I don't write, just look at tiiat list, and re- 
member that all these things require strenuous attention and 
concentration of the faculties, and leave one not very fit for 
anything else. You will say that it is bad to be so entirely ab- 
sorbed in these things, and to that I heartily say Amen ! — ^but 
you might as well argue with a man who has just mounted the 
favourite for the " Oaks " that it is a bad thing to ride fast. 
He admits that, and is off like a shot when the bell rings never- 
theless. My bell has rung some time, and thank God the win- 
ning-post is in sight. 

Give my kindest regards to the doctor and special love to all 
the children. I send a trifle for my godson and some odds and 



ends in the book line, among other things a Shakespeare for 
yourself, dear Liz. — Believe me, ever your afTec. brother, 

T. H. Huxley. 

In December the Edinburgh chair was practically offered 
to him undivided ; but by that time the London authorities 
thought they had better make it worth his while to stay at 
Jermyn Street, and with negotiations begun for this end he 
refused to stand for Edinburgh. In the following spring, 
however, he was again approached from Edinburgh — not so 
much to withdraw his refusal and again become a candidate, 
as to let it be made known that he would accept the chair 
if it were offered him. But his position in London was 
now established; and he preferred to live in London on a 
bare sufficiency rather than to enjoy a larger income away 
from the centre of things. 

Two letters to Tyndall, which refer to the division of 
labour in the science reviews for the Westminster (see p. 
92), indicate very clearly the high pressure at which Huxley 
had already begun to work : — 

Tenby, South Wales, Oct. 22, 1854. 

My dear Tyndall — I was rejoiced to find you entertaining 
my proposition at all. No one believes how hard you work more 
than I, but I was not going to be such a bad diplomatist as to 
put that at the head of- my letter, and if I had thought that 
what I want you to do involved any great accession thereto, I 
think I could nof have mustered up the face to ask you. But 
really and truly, so long as it is confined to our own depart- 
ment it is no great affair. You make me laugh at the long face 
you pull about the duties, based on my phrase. The fact is, you 
notice what you like, and what you do not you leave undone, 
unless you get an editorial request to say something about a 
particular book. The whole affair is entirely in your own hands 
— at least it is in mine — as I went upon my principle of having 
a row at starting. . . . 

Now here is an equitable proposition. Look at my work. I 
have a couple of monographs, odds and ends of papers for jour- 
nals, a manual and some three courses of lectures to provide 
for this winter. " My necessities are as great as thine," as Sir 
Philip Sidney didn't say, so be a brick, split the difference, and 


say you will be ready for the April number. I will write and 
announce the fact to Chapman. 

What idiots we all are to toil and slave at this pace. I 
almost repent me of tempting you — after all — ^so I promise to 
hold on if you really think you will be overdoing it. 

With you I envy Francis his gastric energies. I feel I have 
done for myself in that line, and am in for a life-long dyspeps. 
I have not, now, nervous energy enough for stomach and brain 
both, and if I work the latter, not even the fresh breezes of this 
place will keep the former in order. That is a discovery I have 
made here, and though highly instructive, it is not so pleasant 
as some other physiological results that have turned up. 

Chapman, who died of cholera, was a distant relative of my 
man. The poor fellow vanished in the middle of an unfinished 
article, which has appeared in the last Westminster, as his for- 
lorn vale I to the world. After all, that is the way to die, better 
a thousand times than drivelling off into eternity betwixt awake 
and asleep in a fatuous old age. — Believe me, ever yours faith- 
fully, T. H. Huxley. 

On Tyndall consenting, he wrote again on the 29th : — 

I rejoice in having got you to put your head under my yoke, 
and feel ready to break into a hand gallop on the strength of it. 

I have written to Chapman to tell him you only make an 
experiment on your cerebral substance, whose continuance de- 
pends on tenacity thereof. 

I didn't suspect you of being seduced by the magnificence of 
the emolument, you Cincinnatus of the laboratory. I only sug- 
gested that as pay sweetens labour, a fortiori it will sweeten 
what to you will be no labour. 

Tm not a miserable mortal now — quite the contrary. I never 
am when I have too much to do, and my sage reflection was not 
provoked by envy of the more idle. Only I do wish I could 
sometimes ascertain the exact juste milieu of work which will 
suit, not my head or will, these can't have too much; but my 
absurd stomach. 

The Edinburgh candidature, the adoption of his wider 
scheme for the carrying out of the coast survey, and his 
approaching marriage, are touched upon in the following 
letters to Dr. Frederick Dyster* of Tenby, whose keen 

* It was to Dyster that Huxley owed his introduction in 1854 to 
F. D. Maurice (whose work in educating the people he did his best to 


interest in marine zoology was the starting-point of a warm 
friendship with the rising naturalist, some fifteen years his 
junior. He was strongly urged by the younger man to 
complete and systematise his observations by taking in turn 
all the species of each genus of annelids found at Tenby, 
and working them up into a series of little monographs 
" which would be the best of all possible foundations for a 
History of the British Annelidae " : — 

To Dr. Dyster 

Jan, 5, 1855. 

[He begins by confessing " a considerable liberty " he had 
been taking with Dyster's name, in calling a joint discovery of 
this, which he described in the Edinburgh New Philosophical 
Journal, Protula Dysteri.] 

Are you very savage? If so, you must go and take a walk 
along the sands and see the slant rays of the sunset tipping the 
rollers as they break on the beach ; that always made even me at 
peace with all the world, and a fortiori it will you. 

Truly, I wish I had any such source of consolation. Chim- 
ney pots are highly injurious to my morals, and my temper is 
usually in proportion to the extent of my horizon. 

I have been swallowing oceans of disgust lately. All sorts 
of squabbles, some made by my own folly and others by the 
malice of other people, and no great sea and sky to go out under, 
and be alone and forget it all. 

You may have seen my name advertised by Reeve as about 
to write a memoir of poor Forbes, to be prefixed to a collection 
of his essays. I found that to be a mere bookseller's dodge on 
Reeve's part, and when I made the discovery, of course we had 
a battle-royal, and I have now wholly withdrawn from it. 

I find, however, that one's kind and generous friends imagine 
it was an electioneering manoeuvre on my part for Edinburgh. 
Imagine how satisfactory. I forget whether I told you that I 
had been asked to stand for Edinburgh and have done so. 
Whether I shall be appointed or not I do not know. So far as 

help), and later to Charles Kingsley, whom he first met at the end of 
June 1855. '* What Kingsley do you refer to?" he writes on May 6, 
**Aiton Locke Kingsley or Photographic Kingsley? I shall be right 
glad to find good men and true anywhere, and I will take your bail for 
any man. But the work must be critically done." 


my own wishes go, I am in a curiously balanced state of mind 
about it. Many things make it a desirable post, but I dread 
leaving London and its freedom — its Bedouin sort of life — for 
Edinburgh and no whistling on Sundays. Besides, if I go there, 
I shall have to give up all my coast-survey plans, and all their 
pleasant concomitants. 

Apropos of Edinburgh I feel much like the Irish hod-man 
who betted his fellow he could not carry him up to the top of a 
house in his hod. The man did it, but Pat turning round as he 
was set down on the roof, said, " YeVe done it, sure enough, 
but, bedad, Td great hopes ye*d let me fall about three rounds 
from the top." Bedad, Tm nearly at the top of the Scotch ladder, 
but I've hopes. 

It is finally settled that the chair will not be divided. I told 
them frankly I would not go if it were. 

Has Highly sent your books yet? — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Jermvn Street, Ff6. 13, 1855. 

My dear Dyster — ... I will do my best to help to 

some alumni if the chance comes in my way, though, as you say, 
I don't like him. I can't help it. I respect piety, and hope I 
have some after my own fashion, but I have a profound preju- 
dice against the efflorescent form of it. I never yet found 
in people thoroughly imbued with that pietism, the same no- 
tions of honour and straightforwardness that obtain among 

men of the world. It may be otherwise with , but I can't 

help my pagan prejudice. So don't judge harshly of me there- 

About Edinburgh, I have been going to write to you for 
days past. I have decided on withdrawing from the can- 
didature, and have done so. In fact the more I thought of 
it the less I liked it. They require nine months' lectures some 
four or five times a week, which would have thoroughly 
used me up, and completely put a stop to anything like original 
work; and then there was a horrid museum to be arranged, 
work I don't care about, and which would have involved an 
amount of intriguing and heart-burning, and would have re- 
quired an amount of diplomacy to carry to a successful issue, 
for which my temper and disposition are wholly unfitted. 

And then I felt above all things that it was for me an im- 
posture. Here have I been fighting and struggling for years, 
sacrificing everything to be a man of science, a genuine worker. 



and if I had obtained the Edinburgh chair, I should have been 
in reality a mere pedagogue and a man of science only in name. 
Such were my notions, and if I hesitated at all and allowed 
myself to become a candidate, it was only because I have other 
interests to consult than my own. Intending to " range myself " 
one of these days and become a respectable member of society, 
I was bound to consider my material interests. And so I should 
have been still a candidate for Edinburgh had not the Govern- 
ment here professed themselves unwilling to lose my services, 
adding the " material guarantee " of an addition to my income, 
which, though by no means bringing it up to the point of Edin- 
burgh, will still enable me (das heisst " us ") to live comfort- 
ably here. 

I must renounce the "pomps and vanities," but all those 
other " lusts of the flesh '* which may beseem a gentleman may 
be reasonably gratifled. 

Don't you think I have been wise in my Hercules choice? 
After all I don't lay claim to any great merit, seeing it was any- 
thing but certain I should get Edinburgh. 

The best of all is that I have every reason to believe that 
Government will carry out my scheme for a coast survey, so 
happily and pleasantly beg^n at Tenby last year. 

The final arrangements are almost complete, and I believe 
you may make up your mind to have four months of me next 
year. Tenby shall be immortalised and Jenkyn * converted into 
a philosopher. By the way, I think the best way would be to 
retain the shells till I come. My main purpose is to have in 
them a catalogue of what Tenby affords. 

Pray give my kind remembrances to Mrs. Dyster, and be- 
lieve me, ever yours, T. H. Huxley. 

April I, 1855. 

My dear Dyster — By all that's good, your last note, which 
lies before me, has date a month ago. I looked at it just now, 
and became an April fool on the instant. 

All the winds of March, however, took their course through 
my thorax and eventuated in lectures. At least that is all the 
account I can give to myself of the time, and an unprofitable 
account it is, for everything but one's exchequer. 

So far as knowledge goes it is mere prodigality spending 

* Jenkyn was employed to collect shells, etc., at Tenby. He is 
often alluded to as ** the Professor." 


one's capital and adding nothing, for I find the physical exertion 
of lecturing quite unfits me for much else. Fancy how last 
Friday was spent. I went to Jermyn Street in the morning with 
the intention of preparing for my afternoon's lecture. People 
came talking to me up to within a quarter of an hour of the 
time, so I had to make a dash without preparation. Then I had 
to go home to prepare for a second lecture in the evening, and 
after that I went to a soiree, and got home about one o'clock in 
the morning. 

I go on telling myself this won't do, but to no purpose. 
You will be glad to hear that my affairs here are finally 
settled, and I am regularly appointed an officer of the survey 
with the commission to work out the natural history of the 

Edinburgh has been tempting me again, and in fact I be- 
lieve I was within an ace of going there, but the Government 
definitely offering me this position, I was too glad to stop 
where I am. 

I can make six hundred a year here, and that being the case, 
I conceive I have a right to consult my own inclinations and 
the interests of my scientific reputation. The coast survey puts 
in my hands the finest opportunities that ever a man had, and 
it is a pity if I do not make myself something better than a 
Caledonian pedagogue. 

The great first scheme I have in connection with my new 
post is to work out the Marine Natural History of Britain, and 
to have every species of sea beast properly figured and described 
in the reports which I mean from time to time to issue. I can 
get all the engravings and all the printing I want done, but of 
course I am not so absurd as to suppose I can work otit all these 
things myself. Therefore my notion is to seek in all highways 
and byways for fellow labourers. Busk will, I hope, supply me 
with figures and descriptions of the British Polyzoa and Hy- 
drozoa, and I have confidence in my friend, Mr. Dyster of Tenby 
(are you presumptuous enough to say you know him?) for 
Uie Annelids, if he won't object to that mode of publishing his 
work. The Mollusks, the Crustaceans, and the Fishes, the 
Echinoderms and the Worms, will give plenty of occupation to 
the other people, myself included, to say nothing of distribution 
and of the recent geological changes, all of which come within 
my programme. 

Did I not tell you it was a fine field, and could the land o' 
cakes give me any scope like this? 


April 9, 1855. 

My dear Dyster — I didn't by any means mean to be so 
sphinx-like in my letter, though you have turned out an CEdipus 
of the first water. True it is that I mean to " range myself," 
" live cleanly and leave off sack," within the next few months 
— that is to say, if nothing happen to the good ship which is at 
present bearing my fiancee homewards. 

So far as a restless mortal — ^more or less aweary of most 
things — ^like myself can be made happy by any other human 
being, I believe your good wishes are safe of realisation ; at any 
rate, it will be my fault if they are not, and I beg you never to 
imagine that I could confound the piety of friendship with the 
" efflorescent ' variety. 

I hope to marry in July, and make my way down to Tenby 
shortly afterwards, and I am ready to lay you a wager that your 
vaticinations touching the amount of work that won't be done 
don't come true. 

So much for wives — now for worms — (I could not for the 
life of me help the alliteration). I, as right reverend father in 
worms and Bishop of Annelids, do not think I ought to inter- 
fere with my most promising son, when a channel opens itself 
for the publication of his labours. So do what you will apropos 

of J . If he does not do the worms any better than he did 

the zoophytes, he won't interfere with my plans. 

I shall be glad to see Mrs. Buckland's Echinoderm. I think 
it must be a novelty by what you say. She is a very jolly 
person, but I have an unutterable fear of scientific women. — 
Ever yours, T. H. Huxley. 

May 6, 1855. 

My ship is not come home but is coming, and I have been 
in a state of desperation at the continuous east winds. How- 
ever, to-day there is a westerly gale, and if it lasts I shall 
have news soon. You may imagine that I am in an unsat- 
isfactory state of mind between this and lecturing five times 
a week. 

I beg to say that the " goods " I expect are home produce 
transplanted (or sent a voyage as you do Madeira), and not 
foreign growth by any means. But it is five years since we met, 
I am another man altogether, and if my wife be as much altered, 
we shall need a new introduction. Correspondence, however 
active, is a poor substitute for personal communication and tells 
one but little of the inner life. 


Finally, on the eve of his marriage in July, Tyndall con- 
gratulates him on being appointed to deliver the next course 
of FuUerian Lectures at the Royal Institution : — 

The fates once seemed to point to our connection in a distant 
land: we are now colleagues at home, and I can claim you as 
my scientific brother. May the gods continue to drop fatness 
upon you, and may your next great step be productive of all the 
felicity which your wannest friends or your own rebellious heart 
can desire. 



Miss Heathorn and her parents reached England at 
the beginning of May 1855, and took up their abode at 8 
Titchfield Terrace, not far from Huxley's own lodgings and 
his brother's house. One thing, however, filled Huxley with 
dismay. Miss Heathom's health had broken down utterly, 
and she looked at death's door. All through the preceding 
year she had been very ill ; she had gone with friends, Mr. 
and Mrs. Wise, to the newly opened mining-camp at Bath- 
urst, and she and Mrs. Wise were indeed the first women 
to visit it; returning to Sydney after rather a rough time, 
she caught a chill, and being wrongly treated by a doctor 
of the blood-letting, calomel-dosing school, she was re- 
duced to a shadow, and only saved by another practitioner, 
who reversed the treatment just in time. 

In his letters to her, Huxley had not at first realised 
the danger she had been in; and afterwards tried to keep 
her spirits up by a cheerful optimism that would only look 
forward to their joyful union and many years of unbroken 
happiness to atone for their long parting. 

But the reality alarmed him. He took her to one of 
the most famous doctors of the day, as if merely a patient 
he was interested in. Then as one member of the profession 
to another, he asked him privately his opinion of the case. 
" I give her six months of life," said ^sculapius. " Well, 
six months or not," replied Huxley, " she is going to be my 
wife." The doctor was mightily put out. " You ought to 
have told me that before." Of course, the evasive answer 
in such a contingency was precisely what Huxley wished to 

i855 HIS MARRIAGE 1 39 

avoid. Happily another leading doctor held a much more 
favourable opinion, and said that with care her strength 
would come back, slowly but surely. 

14 Waverley Place. Wednesday, 
My dear HoOkei( — My wife and I met again on Sunday last, 
and I have established herself, her father and mother, close by 
me here at 8 Titchfield Terrace, Regent's Park, and whenever 
you and Mrs. Hooker are in this part of the world, and can find 
time to call there, you will find her anything but surprised to 
see you. 

God help me ! I discover that I am as bad as any young fool 
who knows no better, and if the necessity for giving six lectures 
a week did not sternly interfere, I should be hanging, about her 
ladyship's apron-strings all day. She is in very bad health, 
poor child, and I have some reason to be anxious, but I have 
every hope she will mend with care. 

Oh this life ! " atra cura," as old Thackeray has it, sits on all 
our backs and mingles with all our happiness. But if I go on 
talking in this way you will wonder what has come over my 
philosophership. — Ever yours, T. H. Huxley. 

Black Care was still in the background, but had relaxed 
her hold upon him. His spirits rose to the old point of 
gaiety. He writes how he g^ves a lively lecture to his 
students, and in the midst of it Satan prompts him to crow 
or howl — ^a temptation happily resisted. He makes atro- 
cious puns in bidding Hooker to the wedding, which took 
place on July 21. 

JeRMYN STKEET.Jufy 6. 1855. 

My dear Hooker — I ought long since to have thanked you 
in Thomson's name as well as my own for your Flora Indica, 
Some day I promise myself much pleasure and profit from the 
digestion of the Introductory Essay, which is probably as much 
as my gizzard is competent to convert into nutrition. 

I terminate my Baccalaureate and take my degree of M.A.- 
trimony (isn't that atrocious?) on Saturday, July 21. After the 
unhappy criminals have been turned off, there will be refresh- 
ment provided for the sheriffs, chaplain, and spectators. Will 
you come? Don't if it is a bore, but I should much like to have 
you there. 


It was not a large party that assembled at the George 
Huxleys for the wedding, but all were life-long friends, in- 
cluding, besides the Fanning clan and Mrs. Griffiths, an 
old Australian ally. Hooker, Tyndall, and Dr. and Mrs. 
Carpenter. There was none present but felt that abundant 
happiness was at least well earned after eight years of trial, 
and still more that its best guarantee was the firm loyalty 
and devotion that had passed through so many dangers of 
absence and isolation, so many temptations to renounce the 
ideal course under stress of circumstance, only to emerge 
strengthened and ennobled by the stern discipline of much 

Great as was his new happiness, he hardly stood in need 
of Darwin's word of warning : " I hope your marriage will 
not make you idle ; happiness, I fear, is not good for work." 
Huxley could not sit idle for long. If he had no occupation 
on hand, something worth investigation — and thorough in- 
vestigation — was sure to catch his eye. So he writes to 
Hooker from Tenby : — 

15 St. Julian's Terrace, Tenby, 
Aug, 16, 1855. 

My dear Hooker — I am so near the end of the honeymoon 
that I think it can hardly be immodest if I emerge from private 
life and write you a letter, more particularly as I want to know 
something. I went yesterday on an expedition to see the re- 
mains of a forest which exists between tidemarks at a place 
called Amroth, near here. 

So far as I can judge there can be no doubt that this really 
is a case of downward movement. The stools of the trees are 
in their normal position, and their roots are embedded and in- 
terwoven in a layer of stiff blue clay, which lies immediately 
beneath the superficial mud of the shore. Layers of leaves, 
too, are mixed up with the clay in other parts, and the bark of 
some of the trees is in perfect preservation. The condition of 
the wood is very curious. It is like very hard cheese, so that 
you can readily cut slices with a spade, and yet where more of 
the trunk has been preserved some parts are very hard. The 
trees are, I fancy. Beech and Oak. Could you identify slices if 
I were to send you some ? 

Now it seems to me that here is an opportunity one does 
not often have of getting some information about the action of 


sea water on wood, and on the mode in which these vegetable 
remains may become embedded, etc. etc., and I want to get you 
to tell me where I can find information on submerged forests in 
general, so as to see to what points one can best direct one's 
attention, and to suggest any inquiries that may strike yourself. 

I do not see how the stumps can occur in this position with- 
out direct sinking of the land, and that such a sinking should 
have occurred tallies very well with some other facts which 
I have observed as to the nature of the bottom at considerable 
depths here. 

We had the jolliest cruise in the world by Oxford, War- 
wick, Kenilworth, Stratford, Malvern, Ross, and the Wye, 
though it was a little rainy, and though my wife's strength sadly 
failed at times. 

Still she was on the whole much better and stronger than 
I had any right to expect, and although I get frightened every 
now and then, yet there can be no doubt that she is steadily 
though slowly improving. I have no fears for the ultimate 
result, but her amendment will be a work of time. We have 
really quite settled down into Darby and Joan, and I begin to 
regard matrimony as the normal state of man. It's wonderful 
how light the house looks when I come back weary with a day's 
boating to what it used to do. 

I hope Mrs. Hooker is well and about again. Pray give her 
our very kind regards, and believe me, my dear Hooker, ever 
yours, T. H. Huxley. 

At Tenby he stayed on through August and September, 
continuing his occupations of the previous summer, dredg- 
ing up specimens for his microscope, and working partly 
for his own investigations, partly for the Geological Survey. 


Up to his appointment at the School of Mines, Huxley's 
work had been almost entirely morphological, dealing with 
the Invertebrates. His first investigations, moreover, had 
been directed not to species-hunting, but to working out the 
real affinities of little known orders, and thereby evolving 
a philosophical classification from the limbo of " Vermes " 
and " Radiata." 

He had continued the same work by tracing homologies 
of development in other classes of animals, such as the 
Cephalous Mollusca, the Articulata, and the Brachiopods. 
On these subjects, also, he had a good deal of correspond- 
ence with other investigators of the same cast of mind, and 
even when he did not carry conviction, the impression made 
by his arguments may be judged from the words of Dr. All- 
man, no mean authority, in a letter of May 2, 1852 : — 

I have thought over your arguments again and again, and 
while I am the more convinced of their ingenuity, originality, 
and strength, I yet feel ashamed to confess that I too must ex- 
claim " tenax propositi." When was it otherwise in contro- 
versy ? 

Other speculations arising out of these researches had 
been given to the public in the form of lectures, notably 
that on Animal Individuality at the Royal Institution in 

But after 1854, Paleontology and administrative work 
began to claim much of the time he would willingly have 
bestowed upon distinctly zoological research. His lectures 


on Natural History of course demanded a good deal of 
first-hand investigation, and not only occasional notes in his 
fragmentary journals, but a vast mass of drawings now pre- 
served at South Kensington attest the amount of work he 
still managed to give to these subjects. But with the ex- 
ception of the Hunterian Lectures of 1868, he only pub- 
lished one paper on Invertebrates as late as i860; and only 
half a dozen, not counting the belated " Oceanic Hydro- 
zoa," between 1856 and 1859. The essay on the Crayfish 
did not appear until after he had left Jermyn Street and 
Paleontology for South Kensington. 

The " Method of Paleontology," published in 1856, was 
the first of a long series of papers dealing with fossil crea- 
tures, the description of which fell to him as Naturalist to 
the Geological Survey. By i860 he had published twelve 
such papers, and by 1871 twenty-six more, or thirty-eight 
in sixteen years. 

It was a curious irony of fate that led him into this 
position. He writes in his Autobiography that, when Sir 
Henry de la Beche, th^ Director-General of the Geological 
Survey, offered him the post Forbes vacated of Paleontolo- 
gist and Lecturer on Natural History, 

I refused the former point blank, and accepted the latter 
only provisionally, telling Sir Henry that I did not care for 
fossils, and that I should give up Natural History as soon as 
I could get a physiological post But I held the office for thirty- 
one years, and a large part of my work has been paleontological. 

Yet the diversion was not without great use. A wide 
knowledge of paleontology offered a key to many problems 
that were hotly debated in the years of battle following the 
publication of the Origin of Species in 1859, ^s well as pro- 
viding fresh subject-matter for the lectures in which he con- 
tinued to give the lay world the results of his thought. 

On the administrative and official side he laid before 
himself the orgatiisation of the resources of the Museum of 
Practical Geology as an educational instrument. This in- 
volved several years' work in the arrangement of the speci- 
mens, so as to illustrate the paleontological lectures, and the 



writing of " introductions " to each section of the catalogue, 
which should be a guide to the students. The " Method of 
Paleontology " mentioned above served as the prefatory 
essay to the whole catalogue, and was reprinted in 1869 
by the Smithsonian Institute of Washington under the title 
of Principles and Methods of Paleontology. 

This work led to his taking a lively interest in the 
organisation of museums in general, whether private, suchj 
as Sir Philip Egerton's, which he visited in 1856 ; local, such 
as Warwick or Chester ; or central, such as the British Mu- 
seum or that at Manchester. 

With regard to the British Museum, the question had 
arisen of removing the Natural History collections from the 
confined space and dusty surroundings of Great Russell 
Street. A first memorial on the subject had been signed, 
not only by many non-scientific persons, but also by a 
number of botanists, who wished to see the British Museum 
Herbarium, etc., combined with the more accessible and 
more complete collections at Kew. Owing apparently to offi- 
cial opposition, the Natural History sub-committee of the 
British Museum Trustees advised a treatment of the Botan- 
ical Department which commended itself to none of the 
leading botanists. Consequently a number of botanists and 
zoologists took counsel together and drew up a fresh memo- 
rial from the strictly scientific point of view. Huxley and 
Hooker took an active part in the agitation. " It is no use," 
writes the former to his friend, " putting any faith in the old 
buffers, hardened as they are in trespasses and sin." And 
again : — 

I see nothing for it but for you and I to constitute ourselves 
into a permanent " Committee of Public Safety," to watch over 
what is being done and take measures with the advice of others 

when necessary. ... As for and id genus omne, I have 

never expected anything but opposition from them. But I 
don't think it is necessary to trouble one's head about such 
opposition. It may be annoying and troublesome, but if we are 
beaten by it we deserve to be. We shall have to wade through 
oceans of trouble and abuse, but so long as we gain our end, 
I care not a whistle whether the sweet voices of the scientific 
mob are with me or against me. 


According to Huxley's views a complete system de- 
manded a triple museum for each subject, Zoology and 
Botany, since Geology was sufficiently provided for in 
Jermyn Street— one typical or popular, " in which all promi- 
nent forms or types of animals or plants, recent or fossil, 
should be so displayed as to give the public an idea of the 
vast extent and variety of natural objects, to diffuse a 
general knowledge of the results obtained by science in their 
investigation and classification, and to serve as a general 
introduction to the student in Natural Science " ; the second 
scientific, " in which collections of all available animals and 
plants and their parts, whether recent or fossil, and in a 
sufficient number of specimens, should be disposed con- 
veniently for study, and to which should be exclusively 
attached an appropriate library, or collection of books and 
illustrations relating to science, quite independent of any 
general library"; the third economic, "in which economic 
products, whether zoological or botanical, with illustrations 
of the processes by which they are obtained and applied to 
use, should be so disposed as best to assist the progress of 
Commerce and the Arts." It demanded further a Zoological 
and a Botanical Garden, where the living specimens could be 

Some of these institutions existed, but were not under 
state control. Others were already begun — €,g. that of 
Economic Zoology at South Kensington ; but the value of 
the botanical collections was minimised by want of concen- 
tration, while as to zoology " the British Museum contains 
a magnificent collection of recent and fossil animals, the 
property of the state, but there is no room for its proper 
display and no accommodation for its proper study. Its 
official head reports directly neither to the Government nor 
to the governing body of the institution. ... It is true 
that the people stroll through the enormous collections of the 
British Museum, but the sole result is that they are dazzled 
and confused by the multiplicity of unexplained objects, 
and the man of science is deprived thrice a week of the 
means of advancing knowledge." 

The agitation of 1859-60 bore fruit in due season, and 


within twenty years the ideal here sketched was to a great 
extent realised, as any visitor to the Natural History Mu- 
seum at South Kensington can see for himself. 

The same principles are reiterated in his letter of Janu- 
ary 25, 1868, to the Commissioners of the Manchester 
Natural History Society, who had asked his advice as to 
the erection of a museum. But to the principles he adds a 
number of most practical suggestions as to the actual struc- 
ture of the building, which are briefly appended in abstract. 
The complement to this is a letter of 1872, giving advice 
as to a local museum at Chester, and one of 1859 describ- 
ing the ideal catalogue for a geological museum. 

Jan, 25, 1868. 
The Commissioners of the Manchester 
Natural History Society. 

Scheme for a Museum. 

Objects, — I. The public exhibition of a collection of speci- 
mens large enough to illustrate all the most important truths 
of Natural History, but not so extensive as to weary and con- 
fuse ordinary visitors. 

2. The accessibility of this collection to the public. 

3. The conservation of all specimens not necessary for the 
purpose defined in.(i) in a place apart. 

4. The accessibility of all objects contained in the museum 
to the curator and to scientific students, without interference 
with the public or by the public. 

5. Thorough exclusion of dust and dirt from the specimens. 

6. A provision of space for workrooms, and, if need be, 

Principle. — A big hall (350 X 40 X 30) with narrower halls 
on either side, lighted from the top. The central hall for the 
public, the others for the curators, etc. The walls, of arches 
upon piers about 15 ft. high, bearing on girders a gallery 5 ft 
wide in the public room, and 3 ft. 6 in. in the curators'. 

The cases should be larger below, 5 ft. deep, and smaller 
above, 2 ft. deep, with glass fronts to the public, and doors on 
the curators' side. 

For very large specimens — e.g. a whale — the case could 
expand into the curators' part without encroaching on the public 
part, so as to keep the line of windows regular. 


Specimens of the Vertebrata, illustrations of Physical Geog- 
raphy and Stratigraphical Geology, should be placed below. 

The Invertebrata, Botanical and Mineralogical specimens in 
the galleries. 

The partition to be continued above the galleries to the roof, 
thus excluding all the dust raised by the public. 

Space for students should be provided in the curators' 

Storage should be ample. 

A museum of this size gives twice as much area for ex- 
hibition purposes as that offered by all the cases in the present 

ATHENiEUM Club, Dec, 8, 1872. 

Dear Sir — I regret that your letter has but just come into 
my hands, so that my reply cannot be in time for your meeting, 
which, I understand you to say, was to be held yesterday. 

I have no hesitation whatever in expressing the opinion 
that, except in the case of large and wealthy towns (and even 
in their case primarily), a Local Museum should be exactly 
what its name implies, viz. " Local " — ^illustrating local Geology, 
local Botany, local Zoology, and local Archaeology. 

Such a museum, if residents who are interested in these 
sciences take proper pains, may be brought to a great degree 
of perfection and be unique of its kind. It will tell both natives 
and strangers exactly what they want to know, and possess great 
scientific interest and importance. Whereas the ordinary lum- 
ber-room of clubs from New Zealand, Hindoo idols, sharks' 
teeth, mangy monkeys, scorpions, and conch shells — who shall 
describe the weary inutility of it ? It is really worse than noth- 
ing, because it leads the unwary to look for the objects of sci- 
ence elsewhere than under their noses. What they want to 
know is that their " America is here," as Wilhelm Meister has 
it.— Yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Alfred Walker, Esq., Nant-y-Glyn, Colwyn Bay. 

To THE Rev. P. Brodie of Warwick 

Jermyn Street, Oct, 14, 1859. 
My dear Mr. Brodie — I am sorry to say that I can as yet 
send you no catalogue of ours. The remodelling of our museum 
is only just completed, and only the introductory part of my 
catalogue is written. When it is printed you shall have an early 


If I may make a suggestion I should say that a catalogue of 
your museum for popular use should commence with a sketch 
of the topography and stratigraphy of the county, put into the 
most intelligible language, and illustrated by reference to min- 
eral specimens in the cases, and to the localities where sections 
showing the superposition of such and such beds is to be seen. 
After that I think should come a list of the most remarkable 
and interesting fossils, with reference to the cases where they 
are to be seen; and under the head of each a brief popular ac- 
count of the kind of animal or plant which the thing was when 
alive, its probable habits, and its meaning and importance as a 
member of the great series of successive forms of life. — Yours 
very faithfully, • T. H. Huxley. 

The reorganisation of the course of studies at Jermyn 
Street, fully sketched out in the 1857 notebook, involved 
two very serious additions to his work over and above what 
was required of him by his appointment as Professor. He 
found his students to a great extent lacking in the know- 
ledge of general principles necessary to the comprehension 
of the special work before them. To enable them to make 
the best use of his regular lectures, he offered them in 
addition a preliminary evening course of nine lectures each 
January, which he entitled " An Introduction to the Study 
of the Collection of Fossils in the Museum of Practical 
Geology." These lectures summed up what he afterwards 
named Physiography, together with a general sketch of 
fossils and their nature, the classification of animals and 
plants, their distribution at various epochs, and the princi- 
ples on which they are constructed, illustrated by the ex- 
amination of some animal, such as a lobster. 

The regular lectures, fifty-seven in number, ran from 
February to April and from April to June, with fortnightly 
examinations during the latter period, six in number. I 
take the scheme from his notebook : — " After prolegomena, 
the physiology and morphology of lobster and dove; then 
through Invertebrates, Anodon, Actinia, and Vorticella 
Protozoa, to Molluscan types. Insects, then Vertebrates. 
Supplemented Paleontologically by the demonstrations of 
the selected types in the cases; twelve Paleozoic, twelve 


Mesozoic and Cainozoic/^ by his assistants. " To make the 
course complete there should be added (i) A series of lec- 
tures on Species, practical discrimination and description, 
modification by conditions and distribution ; (2) Lectures 
on the elements of Botany and Fossil Plants." 

This reorganisation of his course went hand in hand 
with his utilisation of the Jermyn Street Museum for paleon- 
tological teaching, and all through 1857 he was busily 
working at the Explanatory Catalogue. 

Moreover, in 1855 he had begun at Jermyn Street his 
regular courses of lectures to working men — lectures which 
impressed those qualified to judge as surpassing even his 
class lectures. Year after year he gave the artisans of his 
best, on the principle enunciated thus early in a letter of 
February 27^ 1855, to Dyster — 

I enclose a prospectus of some People's Lectures (Popular 
Lectures I hold to be an abomination unto the Lord) I am 
about to give here. I want the working classes to understand 
that Science and her ways are great facts for them — ^that physi- 
cal virtue is the base of all other, and that they are to be clean 
and temperate and all the rest — ^not because fellows in black 
with white ties tell them so, but because these are plain and 
patent laws of nature which they must obey " under penalties." 

I am sick of the dilettante middle class, and mean to try 
what I can do with these hard-han4ed fellows who live among 
facts. You will be with me, I know. 

And again on May 6, 1855 : — 

I am glad your lectures went off so well. They were better 
attended than mine [the Preliminary Course], although in point 
of earnestness and attention my audience was all I could wish. 
I am now giving a course of the same kind to working men 
exclusively— one of what we call our series of " working men's 
lectures," consisting of six given in turn by each Professor. 
The theatre holds 600, and is crammed full. 

I believe in the fustian, and can talk better to it than to 
any amount of gauze and Saxony; and to a fustian audience 
(but to that only) I would willingly g^ve some when I come to 

The corresponding movement set going by F. D. 
Maurice also claimed his interest, and in 1857 he gave his 



first address at the Working Men's College to an audience, 
as he notes, of some fifty persons, including Maurice him- 

Other work of importance was connected with the Royal 
Institution. He had been elected to deliver the triennial 
course as Fullerian Professor, and for his subject in 1856-57 
chose Physiology and Comparative Anatomy ; in 1858, the 
Principles of Biology. 

He was extremely glad of the additional " grist to the 
mill " brought in by these lectures. As he wrote in 1890: — 

I have good reason to know what diflference a hundred a 
year makes when your income is not more than four or five 
times that. I remember when I was candidate for the Fullerian 
professorship some twenty-three years ago, a friend of mine 
asked a wealthy manager to support me. He promised, but 
asked the value of the appointment, and when told, said, " Well, 
but what's the use of a hundred a year to him ? " I suppose he 
paid his butler that. 

A further attempt to organise scientific work throughout 
the country and make its results generally known, dates 
from this time. Huxley, Hooker, and Tyndall had dis- 
cussed, early in 1858, the possibility of starting a Scientific 
Review, which should do for science what the Quarterly 
or the Westminster did for.literature. The scheme was found 
not to be feasible at the time, though it was revived in 
another form in i860 ; so in the meanwhile it was arranged 
that science should be laid before the public every fortnight, 
through the medium of a scientific column in the Saturday 
Review. The following letter bears on this proposal: — 

April 20, 1858. 

My dear Hooker — Before the dawn of the proposal for the 
ever-memorable though not-to-be Scientific Review, there had 
been some talk of one or two of us working the public up for 
science through the Saturday Review, Maskelyne (you know 
him, I suppose) was the suggester of the scheme, and undertook 
to talk to the Saturday people about it. 

I thought the whole affair had dropped through, but yester- 
day Maskelyne came to me and to Ramsay with definite propo- 
sitions from the Saturday editor. 


He undertakes to put in a scientific article in the inter- 
mediate part between Leaders and Reviews once a fortnight if 
we will supply him. He is not to mutilate or to alter, but to 
take what he gets and be thankful. 

The writers to select their own subjects. Now the question 
is, Will seven or eight of us, representing different sciences, 
join together and undertake to supply at least one article in 
three months ? Once a fortnight would want a minimum of six 
articles in three months, so that if there were six, each man 
must supply one. 

Sylvester is talked of for Mathematics. I am going to write 
to Tyndall about doing Physics. Maskelyne and perhaps Frank- 
land will take Chemistry and Mineralogy. You and I might do 
Biology; Ramsay, Geology; Smyth, Technology. 

This looks to me like a very feasible plan, not asking too 
much of anyone, and yet giving all an opportunity of saying 
what he has to say. 

Besides this the Saturday would be glad to get Reviews 
from us. 

If all those mentioned agree to join, we will meet some- 
where and discuss plans. 

Let me have a line to say what you think, and believe me, 
ever yours faithfally, T. H. Huxley. 

In 1858 he read three papers at the Geological and two 
at the Linnean; he lectured (February 15) on Fish and 
Fisheries at South Kensington, and on May 21 gave a 
Friday evening discourse at the Royal Institution on " The 
Phenomena of Gemmation." He wrote an article for Todd's 
Cyclopaedia^ on the Tegumentary Organs, an elaborate paper, 
as Sir M. Foster says, on a histological theme, to which, 
as to others of the same class on the Teeth and the Cor- 
puscula Tactus (Q. J. Micr. Sci. 1853-4), he had been " led 
probably by the desire, which only gradually and through 
lack of fulfilment left him, to become a physiologist rather 
than a naturalist." 

No less important was his more general work for sci- 
ence. Physiological study in England at this time was 
dominated by transcendental notions. To put first princi- 
ples on a sound experimental basis was the aim of the new 
leaders of scientific thought. To this end Huxley made 


two contributions in 1858 — one on the general subject of 
the cell theory, the other on the particular question of the 
development of the skull. " In a striking * Review of the 
Cell Theory/ " says Sir M. Foster, " which appeared in the 
British and Foreign Medical Review in 1858, a paper which 
more than one young physiologist at the time read with 
delight, and which even to-day may be studied with no 
little profit, he, in this subject as in others, drove the sword 
of rational inquiry through the heart of conceptions, meta- 
physical and transcendental, but dominant" 

Of this article Professor E. Ray Lankester also writes : — 

. . . Indeed it is a fundamental study in morphology. The 
extreme interest and importance of the views put forward in 
that article may be judged of by the fact that although it is 
forty years since it was published, and although our knowledge 
of cell structure has made inmiense progress during those forty 
years, yet the main contention of that article, viz. that cells are 
not the cause but the result of organisation — in fact, are, as he 
says, to the tide of life what the line of shells and weeds on the 
sea-shore is to the tide of the living sea — is even now being re- 
asserted, and in a slightly modified form is by very many cytolo- 
gists admitted as having more truth in it than the opposed view 
and its later outcomes, to the effect that the cell is the unit of 
life in which and through which alone living matter manifests 
its activities. 

The second was his Croonian Lecture of 1858, " On the 
Theory of the Vertebrate Skull," in which he demonstrated 
from the embryological researches of Rathke and others, 
that after the first step the whole course of development 
in the segments of the skull proceeded on different lines 
from that of the vertebral column ; and that Oken's imagi- 
native theory of the skull as modified vertebrae, logically 
complete down to a strict parallel between the subsidiary 
head-bones and the limbs attached to the spine, outran 
the facts of a definite structure common to all vertebrates 
which he had observed.* 

* ** Following up Rathke, he strove to substitute for the then domi- 
nant fantastic doctrines of the homologies of the cranial elements ad- 
vocated by Owen, sounder views based on embryological evidence. 


With the demolition of Oken's theory fell the super- 
structure raised by its chief supporter, Owen, " archetype " 
and all. 

It was undoubtedly a bold step to challenge thus openly 
the man who was acknowledged as the autocrat of science 
in Britain. Moreover, though he had long felt that on his 
own subjects he was Owen's master, to begin a controversy 
was contrary to his deliberate practice. But now he had 
the choice of submitting to arbitrary dictation or securing 
himself from further aggressions by dealing a blow which 
would weaken the authority of the aggressor. For the 
growing antagonism between him and Owen had come to 
a head early in the preceding year, when the latter, taking 
advantage of the permission to use the lecture-theatre at 
Jermyn Street for the delivery of a paleontological course, 
unwarrantably assumed the title of Professor of Paleontol- 
ogy at the School of Mines, to the obvious detriment of 
Huxley's position there. His explanations not satisfying 
the council of the School of Mines, Huxley broke off all 
personal intercourse with him. 

He exposed the futility of attempting to regard the skull as a series of 
segments, in each of which might be recognised all the several parts 
of a vertebra, and pointed out the errors of trusting to superficial re- 
semblances of shape and position. He showed, by the history of the 
development of each, that, though both skull and vertebral column are 
segmented, the one and the other, after an early stage, are fashioned 
on lines so different as to exclude all possibility of regarding the de- 
tailed features of each as mere modifications of a type repeated along 
the axis of the body. ' The spinal column and the skull start from the 
same primitive condition, whence they immediately begin to diverge.* 
* It may be true to say that there is a primitive identity of structure 
between the spinal or vertebral column and the skull ; but it is no 
more true that the adult skull is a modified vertebral column than it 
would be to affirm that the vertebral column is modified skull.* This 
lecture marked an epoch in England in vertebrate morphology, and 
the views enunciated in it carried forward, if somewhat modified, as 
they have been, not only by Huxley's subsequent researches and by 
those of his disciples, but especially by the splendid work of Gegen- 
baur, are still, in the main, the views of the anatomists of to-day.** — 
Sir M. Foster, Royal Society Obituary Notice of T. H. Huxley. 


Throughout this period his health was greatly tried 
by the strain of his work and life in town. Headache! 
headache! is his repeated note in the early part of 1857, 
and in 1858 we find such entries as: — ^** Feb. 11. — Used 
up. Hypochondrical and bedevilled." " Ditto 12." " 13. 
— Not good for much." "21. — ^Toothache, incapable all 
day." And again: — "March 30. — ^Voiceless." "31. — 
Missed lecture." And, "April i. — Unable to go out" He 
would come in thoroughly used up after lecturing twice on 
the same day, as frequently happened, and lie wearily on 
one sofa ; while his wife, whose health was wretched, matched 
him on the other. Yet he would go down to a lecture feel- 
ing utterly unable to deliver it, and, once started, would 
carry it through successfully — ^at what cost of nervous en- 
ergy was known only to those two at home. 

But there was another branch of work, that for the 
Geological Survey, which occasionally took him out of 
London, and the open-air occupation and tramping from 
place to place did him no little good. Thus, through the 
greater part of September and October 1856 he ranged the 
coasts of the Bristol Channel from Weston to Clovelly, and 
from Tenby to Swansea, preparing a " Report on the Recent 
Changes of Level in the Bristol Channel." " You can't 
think," he writes from Braunton on October 3, " how well 
I am, so long as I walk eight or ten miles a day and don't 
work too much, but I find fifteen or sixteen miles my limit 
for comfort." 

For many years after this his favourite mode of recruit- 


ing from the results of a spell of overwork was to take a 
short walking tour with a friend. In April 1857 he is off 
for a week to Cromer; in i860 he goes with Busk and 
Hooker for Christmas week to Snowdon ; another time he 
is manoeuvred off by his wife and friends to Switzerland 
with Tyndall. 

In Switzerland he spent his summer holidays both in 
1856 and 1857, in the latter year examining the glaciers 
with Tyndall scientifically, as well as seeking pleasure by 
the ascent of Mont Blanc. As fruits of this excursion were 
published late in the same year, his " Letter to Mr. Tyndall 
on the Structure of Glacier Ice " (Phil. Mag. xiv. 1857), and 
the paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal 
Society, which appeared — much against his will — in the joint 
names of himself and Tyndall. Of these he wrote in 1893 
in answer to an inquiry on the subject : — 

By the Observations on Glaciers I imagine you refer to a 
short paper published in Phil. Mag. that embodied results of a 
little bit of work of my own. The Glacier paper in the Phil. 
Trans, is essentially and in all respects Professor Tyndall's. 
He took up glacier work in consequence of a conversation at 
my table, and we went out to Switzerland together, and of 
course talked over the matter a good deal. However, except for 
my friend's insistence, I should not have allowed my name to 
appear as joint author, and I doubt whether I ought to have 
yielded. But he is a masterful man and over-generous. 

And in a letter to Hooker he writes : — 

By the way, you really must not associate me with Tyndall 
and talk about our theory. My sole merit in the matter (and for 
that I do take some credit) is to have set him at work at it, for 
the only suggestion I made, viz. that the veined structure was 
analogous to his artificial cleavage phenomena, has turned out 
to be quite wrong. 

Tyndall fairly made me put my name to that paper, and 
would have had it first if I would have let him, but if people 
go on ascribing to me any share in his admirable work I shall 
have to make a public protest. All I am content to share is the 
row, if there is to be one. 

The following letters to Hooker and Tyndall touch upon 
his Swiss trips of 1856 and 1857 : — 


Berne, Sept. 3, 1856. 

I send you a line hence, having forgotten to write from 
Interlaken, whence we departed this morning. 

The Weissthor expedition was the most successful thing 
you can imagine. We reached the Riflfelberg in iij hours, the 
first six being the hardest work I ever had in my life in the 
climbing way, and the last five carrying us through the most 
glorious sight I ever witnessed. During the latter part of the 
day there was not a cloud on the whole Monte Rosa range, so 
you may imagine what the Matterhorn and the rest of them 
looked like from the wide plain of neve just below the Weissthor. 
It was quite a new sensation, and I would not have missed it 
for any amount; and besides this I had an opportunity of ex- 
amining the n^ve at a very great height. A regularly stratified 
section, several hundred feet high, was exposed on the Cima di 
Jazi, and I was convinced that the Weissthor would be a capital 
spot for making observations on the nev^ and on other correl- 
ative matters. There are no difficulties in the way of getting 
up to it from the Zermatt side, tough job as it is from Macug- 
naga, and we might readily rig a tent under shelter of the ridge. 
That would lick old Saussure into fits. All the Zermatt guides 
put the S. Theodul pass far beneath the Weissthor in point of 
difficulty; and you may tell Mrs. Hooker that they think the 
; S. Theodul easier than the Monte Moro. The best of the joke 
was that I lost my way in coming down the Riffelberg to Zer- 
matt the same evening, so that altogether I had a long day of 
it. The next day I walked from Zermatt to Visp (recovering 
Baedeker by the way), but my shoes were so knocked to pieces 
that I got a blister on my heel. Next day Voiture to Susten, 
and then over Gemmi to Kandersteg, and on Thursday my foot 
was so queer I was glad to get a retour to Interlaken. I found 
most interesting and complete evidences of old moraine deposits 
all the way down the Leuk valley into the Rhine valley, and 
I believe those little hills beyond Susten are old terminal mo- 
raines too. On the other side I followed moraines down to 
Frutigen, and great masses of glacial gravel with boulders, 
.nearly to the Lake of Thun. 

My wife is better, but anything but strong. 

Chamounix, Aug, 16, 1857. 
My wife sends me intelligence of the good news you were 
so kind as to communicate to her. I need not tell you how 
rejoiced I am that everything has gone on well, and diat your 

i857 MONT BLANC 1 57 

wife is safe and well. Offer her my warmest cong^tulations 
and good wishes. I have made one matrimonial engagement 
for Noel already, otherwise I would bespeak the hand of the 
young lady for him. 

It has been raining cats and dogs these two days, so that 
we have been unable to return to our headquarters at the 
Montanvert which we left on Wednesday for the purpose of 
going up Mont Blanc. T)mdall (who has become one of the 
most active and daring mountaineers you ever saw — so that we 
have christened him " cat " ; and our guide said the other day, 
" II va plus fort qu'un mouton. II faut lui mettre une sonnette ") 
had set his heart on the performance of this feat (of course 
with purely scientific objects), and had eqtudly made up his 
mind not to pay five and twenty pounds for the gratification. 
So we had one guide and took two porters in addition as far as 
the Grands Mulcts. He is writing to you, and will tell you him- 
self what happened to those who reached the top — ^to wit, him- 
self, Hirst, and the guide. I found that three days in Switzer- 
land had not given me my Swiss legs, and consequently I re- 
mained at the Grands Mulcts, all alone in my glory, and for 
some eight hours in a great state of anxiety, for the three did 
not return for about that period after they were due. 

I was there on a pinnacle like St. Simon Stylites, and nearly 
as dirty as that worthy saint must have been, but without any 
of his other claims to angelic assistance, so that I really did not 
see, if they had fallen into a crevasse, how I was to help either 
them or myself. They came back at last, just as it was growing 
dusk, to my inexpressible relief, and the next day we came down 
here — such a set of dirty, sun-burnt, snow-blind wretches as 
you never saw. 

We heartily wished you were with us. What we shall do 
next I neither know nor care, as I have placed myself entirely 
under Commodore Tyndall's orders; but I suppose we shall be 
three or four days more at the Montanvert, and then make the 
tour of Mont Blanc. I have tied up six pounds in one end of 
my purse, and when I have no more than that I shall come back. 
Altogether I don't feel in the least like the father of a family; 
no more would you if you were here. The habit of carrying a 
pack, I suppose, makes the "quiver full of arrows" feel light 

115 Esplanade, Deal. Sept, 3, 1857. 
My dear Tyndall — I don't consider myself returned until 
next Wednesday, when the establishment of No. 14 will reopen 


on its accustomed scale of magnificence, but I don*t mind letting 
you know I am in the flesh and safe back. 

The tour round Mont Blanc was a decided success ; in fact, 
I had only to regret you were not with me. The grand glacier 
of the Allee Blanche and the view of Mont Blanc from the 
valley of Aosta were alone worth all the trouble. I had only 
one wet day, and that I spent on the Brenon Glacier; for, in 
spite of all good resolutions to the contrary, I cannot resist 
poking into the glaciers whenever I have a chance. You will 
be interested in my results, which we shall soon, I hope, talk on 
together at length. 

As I suspected, Forbes has made a most egregious blunder. 
What he speaks of and figures as the " structure " of the Brenon 
is nothing but a peculiar arrangement of entirely superficial dirt 
bands, dependent on the structure, but not it. The true structure 
is singularly beautiful and well marked in the Brenon, the blue 
veins being very close set, and of course wholly invisible from 
a distance of a hundred yards, which is less than that of the 
spot whence Forbes' view of the (supposed) structure is taken. 

I saw another wonderful thing in La Brenon. About the 
middle of its length there is a step like this of about 20 or 30 
feet in height. In the lower part (B) the structural planes are 
vertical; in the upper (A) they dip at a considerable angle. I 
thought I had found a case of unconformability, indicating a 
slip of one portion of the glacier over another, but when I came 
to examine the intermediate region (X) carefully, I found the 
structural planes at every intermediate angle, and consequently 
a perfect transition from the one to the other. 

I returned by Aosta, the great St. Bernard, and the Col de 
Balme. Old Simond was quite affectionate in his discourse 
about you, and seemed quite unhappy because you would not 
borrow his money. He had received your remittance, and asked 
me to tell you so. He was distressed at having forgotten to get ^ 
a certificate from you, so I said in mine I was quite sure you : 
were well satisfied with him. ^ 

On our journey he displayed his characteristic qualities, 
Je ne sais pas being the usual answer to any topographical in- 
quiries with a total absence of nerve, and a general conviction 
that distances were very great and that the weather would be 
bad. However, we got on very well, and I was sorry to part 
with him. 

I came home by way of Neuchatel, paying a visit to the 
Pierre a Bot, which I have long wished to see. My financial 


calculations were perfect in theory, but nearly broke down in 
practice, inasmuch as I was twice obliged to travel first-class 
when I calculated on second. The result was that my personal 
expenses between Paris and London amounted to 1.50 1 ! and I 
arrived at my own house hungry and with a remainder of a 
few centimes. I should think that your fate must have been 

Many thanks for writing to my wife. She sends her kind- 
est remembrances to you. — Ever yours, T. H. H. 

The year 1857 was the last in which Huxley apparently 
had time to go so far in journal-writing as to draw up a 
balance-sheet at the year's end of work done and work 
undone. Though he finds "as usual a lamentable differ- 
ence between agenda and acta; many things proposed to 
be done not done, and many things not thought of finished," 
still there is enough noted to satisfy most energetic people. 
Mention has already been made of his lectures — sixty-six 
at Jermyn Street, twelve Fullerian, and as many more to 
prepare for the next year's course ; seven to working men, 
and one at the Royal Institution, together with the rear- 
rangement of specimens at the Jermyn Street Museum, 
and the preparation of the Explanatory Catalogue, which 
this year was published to the extent of the Introduction 
and the Tertiary collections. To these may be added ex- 
aminations at the London University, where he had suc- 
ceeded Dr. Carpenter as examiner in Physiology and Com- 
parative Anatomy in 1856, reviews, translations, a report 
on Deep Sea Soundings, and ten scientific memoirs. 

The most important of the unfinished work consists of 
the long-delayed Oceanic Hydrozoa, the Manual of Compara- 
tive Anatomy, and a report on Fisheries. The rest of the 
unfinished programme shows the usual commixture of tech- 
nical studies in anatomy and paleontology, with essays on 
the philosophical and educational bearings of his work. On 
the one hand are memoirs of Daphnia, Nautilus, and the 
Herring, the affinities of the Paleozoic Crustacea, the As- 
cidian Catalogue and Positive Histology ; on the other, the 
Literature of the Drift, a review of the present state of 
philosophical anatomy, and a scheme for arranging the 


Explanatory Catalogue to serve as an introductory text- 
book to the Jermyn Street lectures and the paleontological 
demonstrations. Here, too, would fall a proposed " Letter 
on the Study of Comparative Anatomy," to do for those 
subjects what Henslow had done in his " Letter " for 

In addition to the fact of his being forced to take up 
Paleontology, it was perhaps the philosophic breadth of 
view with which he regarded his subject at any time, and 
the desire of getting to the bottom of each subsidiary prob- 
lem arising from it, that made him for many years seem 
constantly to spring aside from his own subject, to fly off 
at a tangent from the line in which he was assured of un- 
rivalled success did he but devote to it his undivided powers. 
But he was prepared to endure the charge of desultori- 
ness with equanimity. In part, he was still studying the 
whole field of biological science before he would claim 
to be a master in one department; in part, he could not 
yet tell to what post he might succeed when he left — ^as 
he fully expected to leave — the professorship at Jermyn 

One characteristic of his early papers should not pass 
unnoticed. This was his familiarity with the best that had 
been written on his subjects abroad as well as in England. 
Thoroughness in this respect was rendered easier by the fact 
that he read French and German with almost as much 
facility as his mother tongue. " It is true, of course, that 
scientific men read French and German before the time of 
Huxley; but the deliberate consultation of all the authori- 
ties available has been maintained in historical succession 
since Huxley's earliest papers, and was absent in the papers 
of his early contemporaries." * 

About this time his activity in several branches of sci- 
ence began to find recognition from scientific societies at 
home and abroad. In 1857 he was elected honorary mem- 
ber of the Microscopical Society of Giessen; and in the 
same year, of a more important body, the Academy of 

♦ P. Chalmers Mitchell in Natural Science, August 1895. 

Portrait from a Photograph by Maull and Polyblank, 1857. 

~ "'"i- '•''•.) '',- S l'f:i •;....'/ ^7'' ■;*'•'.". 

:(t ' -i, r:. 


Breslau (Imperialis Academia Caesariana Naturae Curioso- 
rum). He writes to Hooker: — 

14 Waverley Place, April 3, 1857. 

Having subsided from standing upon my head — which was 
the immediate causation of your correspondence about the co- 
extension Imp. Acad. Caes. Nat. Cur. (don't I know their 
thundering long title well !) — I have to say that I was born on 
the 4th of May of the year 1825, whereby I have now more or 
less mis-spent thirty-one years and a bittock, nigh on thirty- 

Furthermore, my locus natalis is Ealing, in the county of 
Middlesex. Upon my word, it is very obliging of the " curious 
naturals," and I must say wholly surprising and unexpected. 

I shall hold up my head immensely to-morrow when (blessed 
be the Lord) I give my last Fullerian. 

Among other things, I am going to take Cuvier's crack case 
of the 'Possum of Montmartre as an illustration of my views. 

I wondered what had become of you, but the people have 
come talking about me this last lecture or two, so I supposed 
you had erupted to Kew. 

My glacier article is out; tell me what you think of it 
some day. 

I wrote a civil note to Forbes ♦ yesterday, charging myself 
with my crime, and I hope that is the end of the business. 

My wife is mending slowly, and if she were here would 
desire to be remembered to you. 

In December 1858 he became a Fellow of the Linnean, 
and the following month not only Fellow but Secretary 
of the Geological Society. 

In 1858 also he was elected to the Athenaeum Club 
under Rule 2, which provides that the committee shall 
yearly elect a limited number of persons distinguished in 
art, science, or letters. His proposer was Sir R. Murchison, 
who wrote : — 

Athen MUM, /an. 26. 
My dear Huxley — I had a success as to you that I never 
had or heard of before. Nineteen persons voted, and of these 
eighteen voted for you and no one against you. You, of course, 

* Principal James Forbes, with whose theory of glaciers Huxley 
and Tyndall disagreed. 


came in at the head of the poll ; no other having, i,e. Cobden, 
more than eleven. — Yours well satisfied. 

Rod. I. MuRCHisoN. 

From this time forth he corresponded with many foreign 
men of science; in these years particularly with Victor 
Carus, Lacaze Duthiers, Kolliker, and de Quatrefages, in 
reference to their common interest in the study of the in- 

At home, the year 1857 opened very brightly for Hux- 
ley with the birth of his first child, a son, on the eve of 
the New Year. A Christmas child, the boy was named 
Noel, and lived four happy years to be the very sunshine 
of home, the object of passionate devotion, whose sudden 
loss struck deeper and more ineffaceably than any other 
blow that befell Huxley during all his life. 

As he sat alone that December night, in the little room 
that was his study in the house in Waverley Place, waiting 
for the event that was to bring him so much happiness and 
so much sorrow, he made a last entry in his journal, full of 
hope and resolution. In the blank space below follows a 
note of four years later, when " the ground seemed cut from 
under his feet," yet written with restraint and without bit- 

December 31, 1856." . . . 1856-7-8 must still be " Lehrjahre " 
to complete training in principles of Histology, Morphology, 
Physiology, Zoology, and Geology by Monographic Work in 
each Department, i860 will then see me well grounded and 
ready for any special pursuits in either of these branches. 

It is impossible to map out beforehand how this must be 
done.. I must seize opportunities as they come, at the risk of 
the reputation of desultoriness. 

In i860 I may fairly look forward to fifteen or twenty years 
" Meisterjahre," and with the comprehensive views my training 
will have given me, I think it will be possible in that time to 
give a new and healthier direction to all Biological Science. 

To smite all humbugs, however big ; to give a nobler tone to 
science; to set an example of abstinence from petty personal 
controversies, and of toleration for everything but lying; to be 
indifferent as to whether the work is recognised as mine or not, 
so long as it is done : — are these my aims ? i860 will show. 


Willst du dir ein httbsch Leben zimmern, 
Musst dich ans Vergangene nicht bekttmmern ; 
Und ware dir auch was Verloren, 
Musst immer thun wie neugeboren. 
Was jeder Tag will, sollst du fragen ; 
Was jeder Tag will, wird er sagen. 
Musst dich an eigenem Thun ergOtzen ; 
Was andere thun, das wirst du sch&tzen. 
Besonders keinen Menschen hassen 
Und das Obrige Gott ttberlasscn.* 

Half-past ten at night. 

Waiting for my child. I seem to fancy it the pledge that 
all these things shall be. 

Born five minutes before twelve. Thank God. New 
Year's Day, 1857. 

Sept, 20. i860. 

And the same child, our Noel, our first-born, after being for 
nearly four years our delight and our joy, was carried off by 
scarlet fever in forty-eight hours. This day week he and I had 
a great romp together. On Friday his restless head, with its 
bright blue eyes and tangled golden hair, tossed all day upon 
his pillow. On Saturday night the fifteenth, I carried him 
here into my study, and laid his cold still body here where I 
write. Here too on Sunday night came his mother and I to that 
holy leave-taking. 

My boy is gone, but in a higher and a better sense than was 
in my mind when I wrote four years ago what stands above — 
I feel that my fancy has been fulfilled. I say heartily and with- 
out bitterness — Amen, so let it be. 

♦ Wilt shape a noble life ? Then cast 
No backward glances to the past. 
And what if something still be lost ? 
Act as new-born in all thou dost. 
What each day wills, that shalt thou ask ; 
Each day will tell its proper task ; 
What others do, that shalt thou prize. 
In thine own work thy guerdon lies. 
This above all : hate none. The rest — 
Leave it to God. He knoweth best. 


The programme laid down in 1857 was steadily carried 
out through a great part of 1859. Huxley published nine 
monographs, chiefly on fossil Reptilia, in the proceedings 
of the Geological Society and of the Geological Survey, 
one on the armour of crocodiles at the Linnean, and " Ob- 
servations on the Development of some Parts of the Skele- 
ton of Fishes," in the Journal of Microscopical Scietice. 

Among the former was a paper on Stagonolepis, a 
creature from the Elgin beds, which had previously been 
ranked among the fishes. From some new remains, which 
he worked out of the stone with his own hands, Huxley 
made out that this was a reptile closely allied to the Croco- 
diles; and from this and the affinities of another fossil, 
Hyperodapedon, from neighbouring beds, determined the 
geological age to which the Elgin beds belonged A good 
deal turned upon the nature of the scales from the back and 
belly of this animal, and a careful comparison with the 
scales of modem crocodiles — ^a subject till then little inves- 
tigated — led to the paper at the Linnean already men- 

The paper on fish-development was mainly based upon 
dissections of the young of the stickleback. Fishes had 
been divided into two classes according as their tails are 
developed evenly on either side of the line of the spine, 
which was supposed to continue straight through the centre 
of the tail, or lopsided, with one tail fin larger than the 
other. This investigation showed that the apparently even 
development was only an extreme case of lopsidedness, the 


continuation of the " chorda," which gives rise to the spine, 
being at the top of the upper fin, and both fins being devel- 
oped on the same side of it. Lopsidedness as such, there- 
fore, was not to be regarded as an embryological character 
in ancient fishes; what might be regarded as such was the 
absence of a bony sheath to the end of the " chorda " found 
in the more developed fishes. Further traces of this bony 
structure were shown to exist, among other piscine resem- 
blances, in the Amphibia. Finally the embryological facts 
now observed in the development of the bones of the skull 
were of great importance, " as they enable us to understand, 
on the one hand, the different modifications of the palato- 
suspensorial apparatus in fishes, and on the other hand the 
relations of the components of this apparatus to the corre- 
sponding parts in other Vertebrata/* fishes, reptiles, and 
mammals presenting a well-marked series of gradations in 
respect to this point. 

This part of the paper had grown out of the investiga- 
tions begun for the essay on the Vertebrate Skull,* just as 
that on Jacare and Caimian from inquiry into the scales of 

Thus he was still able to devote most of his time to 
original research. But though in his letter of March 27, 
1855, below, he says, " I never write for the Reviews now, 
as original work is much more to my taste," it appears from 
jottings in his 1859 notebook, such as " Whewell's History 
of Scientific Ideas, as a Peg on which to hang Cuvier arti- 
cle," that he again found it necessary to supplement his 
income by writing. He was still examiner at London Uni- 
versity, and delivered six lectures on Animal Motion at the 
London Institution and another at Warwick. This lecture 
he had offered to give at the Warwick Museum as some 
recognition of the willing help he had received from the 
assistants when he came down to examine certain fossils 
there. On the way he visited Rolleston at Oxford. The 
knowledge of Oxford life gained from this and a later visit 
led him to write : — 

♦ Sec p. 152. 


The more I see of the place the more glad I am that I elected 
to stay in London. I see much to admire and like; but I am 
more and more convinced that it would not suit me as a resi- 

Two more important points remain to be mentioned 
among the occupations of the year. In January Huxley 
was elected Secretary of the Geological Society, and with 
this office began a form of administrative work in the scien- 
tific world which ceased only with his resignation of the 
Presidency of the Royal Society in 1885. 

Part of the summer Huxley spent in the North. On 
August 3 he went to Lamlash Bay in Arran. Here Dr. 
Carpenter had, in 1855, discovered a convenient cottage on 
Holy Island — the only one, indeed, on the island — well 
suited for naturalists; the bay was calm and suitable both 
for the dredge and for keeping up a vivarium. He proposed 
that either the Survey should rent the whole island at a cost 
of some £50, or, failing this, that he would take the cottage 
himself, if Huxley would join him for two or three seasons 
and share the expense. Huxley laid the plan before Sir 
R. Murchison, the head of the Survey, who consented to try 
the plan for a course of years, during three months in each 
year. " But," he added, " keep it experimental ; for there 
are no useful fisheries such as delight Lord Stanley." Here, 
then, with an ascent of Goatfell for variety on the 21st, a 
month was passed in trawling, and experiments on the 
spawning of the herring appear to have been continued for 
him during the winter in Bute. 

On the 29th Huxley left Lamlash for a trip through 
central and southern Scotland, continuing his geological 
work for the Survey ; and wound up by attending the meet- 
ing of the British Association at Aberdeen, leaving his wife 
and the three children at Aberdour, on the Fifeshire coast. 

From Aberdeen, where Prince Albert was President of 
the Association, Huxley writes on September 15: — 

Owens brief address on giving up the presidential chair was 
exceedingly good. ... I shall be worked like a horse here. 
There are all sorts of new materials from Elgin, besides other 
things, and I daresay I shall have to speak frequently. In point 


of attendance and money this is the best meeting the Associa- 
tion ever had. In point of science, we shall see. . . . Tyndall 
has accepted the Physical chair with us, at which I am greatly 

In this connection the following letter to Tyndall is in- 
teresting : — 

Aberdour, Fife, N.B., Sept. 5, 1859. 

My dear Tyndall — I met Faraday on Loch Lomond yester- 
day, and learned from him that you had returned, whereby you 
are a great sinner for not having written to me. Faraday told 
me you were all sound, wind and limb, and had carried out 
your object, which was good to hear. 

Have you had any letter from Sir Roderick? If not, pray 
call in Jermyn Street and see Reeks ^ as soon as possible. 

The thing I have been hoping for for years past has come 
about, — Stokes having resigned the Physical Chair in our place, 
in consequence of his appointment to the Cambridge University 
Commission. This unfortunately occurred only after our last 
meeting for the session, and after I had left town, but Reeks 
wrote to me about it at once. I replied as soon as I received 
his letter, and told him that I would take. upon myself the re- 
sponsibility of saying that you would accept the chair if it were 
offered you. I thought I was justified in this by various con- 
versations we have had; and, at any rate, I felt sure that it was 
better that I should get into a mess than that you should lose the 

I know that Sir Roderick has written to you, but I imagine 
the letter has gone to Chamounix, so pray put yourself into 
communication with Reeks at once. 

You know very well that the having you with us at Jermyn 
Street is a project that has long been dear to my heart, partly 
on your own account, but largely for the interest of the school. 
I earnestly hope that there is no impediment in the way of your 
coming to us. How I am minded towards you, you ought to 
know by this time; but I can assure you that all the rest of us 
will receive you with open arms. Of that I am quite sure. 

Let me have a line to know your determination. I am on 
tenterhooks till the thing is settled. 

♦ Mr. Trcnham Reeks, who died in 1879, ^as Registrar of the 
School of Mines, and Curator and Librarian of the Museum of Practi- 
cal Geology. 


l68 l-IFE OF PROFESSOR HUXLEY chap, xii 

Can't you come up this way as you go to Aberdeen ? — Ever 
yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

PS, — I thought I might mention the Jermyn Street matter 
to Faraday privately, and did so. He seemed pleased that the 
offer had been made. 

The acceptance of the lectureship at the School of Mines 
brought Tyndall into the closest contact with Huxley for 
the next nine years, until he resigned his lectureship in 1868 
on succeeding Faraday as superintendent of the Royal In- 

On September 17 he writes : — 

Yesterday Owen and I foregathered in Section D. He read 
a very good and important paper, and I got up afterwards and 
spoke exactly as I thought about it, and praising many parts 
of it strongly. In his reply he was unco civil and compli- 
mentary, so that the people who had come in hopes of a row 
were (as I intended they should be) disappointed. 

A number of miscellaneous letters of this period are here 
grouped together. 

• 14 Waverlev Place, /an, 30, 1858. 

My dear Hooker — ... I wish you wouldn't be apologetic 
about criticism from people who have a right to criticise. I 
always look upon any criticism as a compliment, not but what 
the old Adam in T. H. H. will arise and fight vigorously against 
all impugnment, and irrespective of all odds in the way of au- 
thority, but that is the way of the beast 

Why I value your and TyndalFs and Darwin's friendship so 
much is, among other things, that you all pitch into me when 
necessary. You may depend upon it, however blue I may look 
when in the wrong, it's wrath with myself and nobody else. 

To HIS Sister 

The Government School of Mines, Jermyn St., 
March 27, 1858. 
My dearest Lizzie — It is a month since your very welcome 
letter reached me. I had every inclination and every intention 
to answer it at once, but the wear and tear of incessant occupa- 
tion (for your letter arrived in the midst of my busiest time) 
has, I will not say deprived me of the leisure, but of that tone 
of mind which one wants for writing a long letter. I fully 


understand — no one should be better able to comprehend — how 
the same causes may operate on you, but do not be silent so 
long again ; it is bad for both of us. I have loved but few people 
in my life, and am not likely to care for any more unless it be 
my children. I desire therefore rather to knit more firmly than 
to loosen the old ties, and of these which is older or stronger 
than ours? Don't let trs drift asunder ag^in. 

Your letter came just after the birth of my second child, a 
little girl. I registered her to-day in the style and title of Jessie 
Oriana Huxley. The second name is a family name of my 
wife's and not, as you might suppose, taken from Tennyson. 
You will know why my wife and I chose the first. We could 
not make you a godmother, as my wife's mother is one, and a 
friend of ours had long since applied for the other vacancy, but 
perhaps this is a better tie than that meaningless formality. My 
little son is fifteen months old; a fair-haired, blue-eyed, stout 
little Trojan, very like his mother. He looks out on the world 
with bold confident eyes and open brow, as if he were its master. 
We shall try to make him a better man than his father. As for 
the little one, I am told she is pretty, and slavishly admit the fact 
in the presence of mother and nurse, but between ourselves I 
don't see it. To my carnal eyes her nose is the image of mine, 
and you know what that means. For though wandering up 
and down the world and work have begun to sow a little silver 
in my hair, they have by no means softened the outlines of that 
remarkable feature. 

You want to know what I am and where I am — ^well, here's 
a list of titles. T. H. H., Professor of Natural History, Govern- 
ment School of Mines, Jermyn Street; Naturalist to the Geo- 
logical Survey; Curator of the Paleontological collections (non- 
official ' maid-of -all- work in Natural Science to the Govern- 
ment) ; Examiner in Physiology and Comparative Anatomy to 
the University of London ; Fullerian Professor of Physiology to 
the Royal Institution (but that's just over) ; F.R.S., F.G.S., etc. 
Member of a lot of Societies and Clubs, all of which cost him a 
mint of money. Considered a rising man and not a bad fellow 
by his friends — per contra greatly over-estimated and a bitter 
savage critic by his enemies. Perhaps they are both right. I 
have a high standard of excellence and am no respecter of per- 
sons, and I am afraid I show the latter peculiarity rather too 
much. An internecine feud rages between Owen and myself 
(more's the pity) partly on this account, partly from other 



This is the account any third person would give you of what 
I am and of what I am doing. He would probably add that I 
was very ambitious and desirous of occupying a high place in 
the world's estimation. Therein, however, he would be mis- 
taken. An income sufficient to place me above care and anxiety, 
and free scope to work, are the only things I have ever wished 
for or striven for. But one is obliged to toil long and hard for 
these, and it is only now that they are coming within my grasp. 
I gave up the idea of going to Edinburgh because I doubted 
whether leaving London was wise. Recently I have been 
tempted to put up for a good physiological chair which is to 
be established at Oxford; but the Government propose to im- 
prove my position at the School of Mines, and there is every 
probability that I shall now permanently remain in London. 
Indeed, it is high time that I should settle down to one line of 
work. Hitherto, as you see by the somewhat varied list of my 
duties, etc., above, I have been ranging over different parts of a 
very wide field. But this apparent desultoriness has been neces- 
sary, for I knew not for what branch of science I should eventu- 
ally have to declare myself. There are very few appointments 
open to men of science in this country, and one must take what 
one can get and be thankful. 

My health was very bad some years ago, and I had great 
fear of becoming a confirmed dyspeptic, but thanks to the pedes- 
trian tours in the Alps I have taken for the past two years, I am 
wonderfully better this session, and feel capable of any amount 
of work. It was in the course of one of these trips that I went, 
as you have rightly heard, half way up Mont Blanc. But I was 
not in training and stuck at the Grands Mulcts, while my three 
companions went on. I spent seventeen hours alone on that 
grand pinnacle, the latter part of the time in great anxiety, for 
I feared my friends were lost; and as I had no guide my own 
neck would have been in considerable jeopardy in endeavour- 
ing to return amidst the maze of crevasses of the Glacier des 
Bois. But it was glorious weather and the grandest scenery 
in the world. In the previous year I saw much of the Bernese 
and Monte Rosa country, journeying with a great friend of mine 
well known as a natural philosopher, Tyndall, and partly seeking 
health and partly exploring the glaciers. You will find an arti- 
cle of mine on that subject in the Westminster Review for 1857. 

I used at one time to write a good deal for that Review, prin- 
cipally the Quarterly notice of scientific books. But I never 
write for the Reviews now, as original work is much more to 

1858 ENOUGH ABOUT MY " ICH " 171 

my taste. The articles you refer to are not mine, as, indeed, 
you rightly divined. The only considerable book I have trans- 
lated is Kolliker's Histology — in conjunction with Mr. Busk, 
an old friend of mine. All translation and article writing is 
weary work, and I never do it except for filthy lucre. Lecturing 
I do not like much better; though one way or another I have to 
give about sixty or seventy a year. 

Now then, I think that is enough about my " Ich." You 
shall have a photographic image of him and my wife and child 
as soon as I can find time to have them done. . . . 

I Eldon Place, Broadstairs, Sepf, 5, 1858. 

My dear Hooker — I am glad Mrs. Hooker has found rest 
for the sole of her foot. I returned her Tyndall's letter 

Wallace*s impetus seems to have set Darwin going in 
earnest, and I am rejoiced to hear we shall learn his views in 
full, at last. I look forward to a great revolution being effected. 
Depend upon it, in natural history, as in everything else, when 
the English mind fully determines to work a thing out, it will 
do it better than any other. 

I firmly believe in the advent of an English epoch in science 
and art, which will lick the Augustan (which, by the bye, had 
neither science nor art in our sense, but you know what I mean) 
into fits. So hooray, in the first place, for the Genera plantarum. 
I can quite understand the need of a new one, and I am right 
glad you have undertaken it. It seems to me to be in all respects 
the sort of work for you, and exactly adapted to your environ- 
ment at Kew. I remember you mentioned to me some time 
ago that you were thinking of it. 

I wish I could even hope that such a thing would be even 
attempted in the course of this generation for animals. 

But with animal morphology in the state in which it is now, 
we haVe no terminology that will stand, and consequently con- 
cise and comparable definitions are in many cases impossible. 

If old Dom. Gray ♦ were but an intelligent activity instead of 
being a sort of zoological whirlwind, what a deal he might do. 
And I am hopeless of Owen's comprehending what classification 
means since the publication of the wonderful scheme which 
adorns the last edition of his lectures. 

* John Edward Gray (1800-1875), appointed Keeper of the Zoologi- 
cal Collections in the British Museum in 1840. 


As you say, I have found this a g^eat place for " work of 
price." I have finished the " Oceanic Hydrozoa " all but the 
bookwork, for which I must have access to the B.M. Library — 
but another week will do him. My notes are from eight to 
twelve years old, and really I often have felt like the editor of 
somebody else's posthumous work. 

Just now I am busy over the " Croonian," which must be 
done before I return. I have been pulling at all the arguments 
as a spider does at his threads, and I think they are all strong. 
If so the thing will do some good. 

I am perplexed about the N.H. Collections. The best thing, 
I firmly believe, would be for the Economic Zoology and a set 
of well selected types to go to Kensington, but I should be sorry 
to see the scientific collection placed under any such auspices as 
those which govern the " Bilers." I don't believe the clay soil 
of the Regent's Park would matter a fraction — and to have a 
grand scientific zoological and paleontological collection for 
working purposes close to the Gardens where the living beasts 
are, would be a g^and thing. I should not wonder if the affair 
is greatly discussed at the B.A. at Leeds, and then, perhaps, 
light will arise. 

Have you seen that madcap Tyndall's letter in the Times? 
He'll break his blessed neck some day, and that will be a g^eat 
hole in the efficiency of my scientific young England. We mean 
to return next Saturday, and somewhere about the i6th or 17th 
I shall go down to York, where I want to study Plesiosaurs. I 
shall return after the British Association. The interesting ques- 
tion arises, Shall I have a row with the Great O. there? What 
a capital title that is they give him of the British Cuvier. He 
stands in exactly the same relation to the French as British 
brandy to cognac. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Am I to send the Gardener's Chronicle on, and where? 
please. I have mislaid the address. 

Jermyn Street, Ocf. 25, 1858. 

My dear Spencer — I read your article on the " Archetype " 
the other day with g^eat delight, particularly the phrase which 
puts the Owenian and Cummingian interpolations on the same 
footing. It is rayther strong, but quite just. 

I do not remember a word to object to, but I think I could 
have strengthened your argument in one or two places. Having 
eaten the food, will you let me have back the dish ? I am wind- 


ing up the " Croonian," and want U Archetype to refer to. So 
if you can let me have it I shall be obliged. When do you 
return? — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

14 Waverley Place, /flif. i, 1859. 

My dearest Lizzie — If intentions were only acts, the quan- 
tity of letter paper covered with my scrawl which you would 
have had by this time would have been something wonderful. 
But I live at high pressure, with always a number of things 
crying out to be done, and those that are nearest and call loudest 
get done, while the others, too often, don't. However, this day 
shall not go by without my wishing you all happiness in the 
new year, and that wish you know necessarily includes all be- 
longing to you, and my love to them. 

I have been long wanting to send you the photographs of 
myself, wife, and boy, but one reason or other (Nettie's inces- 
sant ill-health being, I am sorry to say, the chief) has inces- 
santly delayed the procuring of the last However, at length, 
we have obtained a tolerably successful one, though you must 
not suppose that Noel has the rather washed out look of his 
portrait That comes of his fair hair and blue gray eyes — for 
the monkey is like his mother and has not an atom of resem- 
blance to me. 

He was two years old yesterday, and is the apple of his 
father's eye and chief deity of his mother's pantheon, which at 
present contains only a god and goddess. Another is expected 
shortly, however, so that there is no fear of Olympus looking 

. . . Here is the 26th of January and no letter gone yet . . . 
Since I began this letter I have been very busy with lectures and 
other sorts of work, and besides, my whole household almost has 
been ill— chicks with whooping cough, mother with influenza, a 
servant ditto. I don't know whether you have such things in 

Let me see what has happened to me that will interest you 
since I last wrote. Did I tell you that I have finally made up 
my mind to stop in London — tlie Government having made it 
worth my while to continue in Jermyn Street? They give me 
£600 a year now, with a gradual riSe up to £800, which I reckon 
as just enough to live on if one keeps very quiet. However, 
it is the greatest possible blessing to be paid at last, and to be 
free from all the abominable anxieties which attend a fluctuating 
income. I can tell you I have had a sufficiently hard fight of it. 


When Nettie and I were young fools we agreed we would 
marry whenever we had £200 a year. Well, we have had more 
than twice that to begin upon, and how it is we have kept out of 
the Bench is a mystery to me. But we have, and I am inclined 
to think that the Missus has got a private hoard (out of the 
puddings) for Noel. 

I shall leave Nettie to finish this rambling letter. In the 
meanwhile, my best love to you and yours, and mind you are a 
better correspondent than your affectionate brother, Tom. 

To Professor Leuckart 

The Government School of Mines, 
Jermyn Street, Loudon, January 30, 1859. 

My dear Sir — Our mutual friend, Dr. Harley, informs me 
that you have expressed a wish to become possessed of a sepa- 
rate copy of my lectures, published in the Medical Times. I 
greatly regret that I have not one to send you. The publisher 
only gave me half a dozen separate copies of the numbers of 
the journal in which the Lectures appeared. Of these I sent 
one to Johannes Miiller and one to Professor Victor Carus, 
and the rest went to other friends. 

I am sorry to say that a mere fragment of what I originally 
intended to have published has appeared, the series having been 
concluded when I reached the end of the Crustacea. To say 
truth, the Lectures were not fitted for the journal in which they 

I did not know that anyone in Germany had noticed them 
until I received the copy of your Bericht for 1856, which you 
were kind enough to send me. I owe you many thanks for the 
manner in which you speak of them, and I assure you it was a 
source of great pleasure and encouragement to me to find so 
competent a judge as yourself appreciating and sympathising 
with my objects. 

Particular branches of zoology have been cultivated in this 
country with great success, as you are well aware, but ten years 
ago I do not believe that there were half a dozen of my country- 
men who had the slightest comprehension of morphology, and of 
what you and I should call " Wissenschaftliche Zoologie." 

Those who thought about the matter at all took Owen's 
osteological extravaganzas for the ne plus ultra of morphological 

I learned the meaning of Morphology and the value of de- 


velopment as the criterion of morphological views — first, from 
the study of the Hydrozoa during a long voyage, and secondly, 
from the writings of Von Bar. I have done my best, both by 
precept and practice, to inaugurate better methods and a better 
spirit than had long prevailed. Others have taken the same 
\'iews, and I confidently hope that a new epoch for zoology is 
dawning among us. I do not cl^im for myself any great share 
in4he good work, but I have not fiinched when there was any- 
thing to be done. 

Under these circumstances you will imagine that it was very 
pleasant to find on your side a recognition of what I was about. 

I sent you, through the booksellers, some time ago a copy of 
my memoir on Aphis. I find from Moleschott's Untersuchungen 
that you must have been working at this subject contemporane- 
ously with myself, and it was very satisfactory to find so close 
a concordance in essentials between our results. Your memoirs 
are extremely interesting, and to some extent anticipated results 
at which my friend, Mr. Lubbock * (if very competent worker, 
with whose paper on Daphnia you are doubtless acquainted), had 

I should be very glad to know what you think of my views 
of the composition of the articulate head. 

I have been greatly interested also in your Memoir on 
Pentastomum. There can be no difficulty about getting a notice 
of it in our journals, and, indeed, I will sec to it myself. Pray 
do me the favour to let me know whenever I can serve you in 
this or other ways. 

I shall do myself the pleasure of forwarding to you immedi- 
ately, through the booksellers, a lecture of mine on the The/>ry 
of the Vertebrate Skull, which is just published, and also a little 
paper on the development of the tail in fishes. 

I am sorry to say that I have but little time for working at 
these matters now, as my position at the School of Mines obliges 
me to confine myself more and more to Palaeontok>gy. 

However, I keep to the anatomical side of that w^rt of work. 
and so, now and then, I hope to emerge from amidst the iohhih 
with a bit of recent anatomy. 

Just at present, by the way, I am giving my di^p'>sjiUe h</urh 
to the completion of a monograph on the Calycc^^hondae arid 
Physophoridx observed during my voyage. 71ie IxMjk ou^it to 
have been published eight years ago. But for three years 1 of/uld 

♦ The present Sir John Lubbotk, MP. 


get no money from the Government, and in the meanwhile you 
and Kolliker, Gegenbaur and Vogt, went to the shores of the 
Mediterranean and made sad havoc with my novelties. Then 
came occupations consequent on my appointment to the chair 
I now hold; and it was only last autumn that I had leisure to 
take up the subject again. 

However, the plates, which I hope you will see in a few 
months have, with two exceptions, been engraved five years. 

Pray make my remembrances to Dr. Eckhard. I was sorry 
not to have seen him again in London. — Ever, my dear Sir, very 
faithfully yours, T. H. Huxley. 

Prof. Leuckart 

At this time Sir J. Hooker was writing, as an introduc- 
tion to his Flora of Tasmania, his essay on the Fbra of 
Australia, published in 1859 — a book which owed its form 
to the influence of Darwin, and in return lent weighty sup- 
port to evolutionary theory from the botanical side. He 
sent his proofs for Huxley to read. 

14 Waverley Place, N.W., April 22, 1859. 

My dear Hooker — I have read your proofs with a great deal 
of attention and interest. I was greatly struck with the sug- 
gestions in the first page, and the exposure of the fallacy " that 
cultivated forms recur to wild types if left alone " is new to me 
and seem» of vast importance. 

The argument brought forward in the note is very striking 
and as simple as the tgg of Columbus, when one sees it. I have 
marked one or two passages which are not quite clear to 
me. . . . 

I have been accused of writing papers composed of nothing 
but heads of chapters, and I think you tend the same way. 
Please take the trouble to make the two lines I have scored into 
a paragraph, so that poor devils who are not quite so well up 
in the subject as yourself may not have to rack their brains for 
an hour to supply all the links of your chain of argument. . . . 

You see that I am in a carping humour, but the matter of 
the essays seems to me to be so very valuable that I am jealous 
of the manner of it. 

I had a long visit from Greene of Cork yesterday. He is 
very Irish, but very intelligent and well-informed, and I am in 
hopes he will do good service. He is writing a little book on 
the Protozoa, which (so far as I have glanced over the proof 

i859 LETTERS 1 77 

sheets as yet) seems to show a very philosophical turn of mind. 
It is very satisfactory to find the ideas one has been fighting 
for beginning to take root. 

I do not suppose my own personal contributions to science 
will ever be anything very grand, but I shall be well content if 
I have reason to believe that I have done something to stir up 
others. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

\ To the same : — • 

j4pri/, 1859. 
My dear Hooker ... I pity you — as for the MSS. it is one 
of those cases for which penances were originally devised. 
What do you say to standing on your head in the garden for 
one hour per diem for the next week ? It would be a relief. . . . 
I suppose you will be at the Phil. Club next Monday. In 
the meanwhile don't let all the flesh be worried off your bones 
(there isn't much as it is). — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

14 Waverley Place, July 29, 1859. 

My dear Hooker — I meant to have written to you yester- 
day, but things put it out of my head. If there is to be any 
fund raised at all, I am quite of your mind that it should be a 
scientific fund and not a mere naturalists' fund. Sectarianism 
in such matters is ridiculous, and besides that, in this particular 
case it is bad policy. For the wo9d " Naturalist " unfortunately 
includes a far lower order of men than chemist, physicist, or 
mathematician. You don't call a man a mathematician because 
he has spent his life in getting as far as quadratics ; but every 
fool who can make bad species and worse genera is a " Natural- 
ist"! — save the mark! Imagine the chemists petitioning the 

Crown for a Pension for P if he wanted one ! and yet he 

really is a philosopher compared to poor dear A . 

" Naturalists " therefore are far more likely to want help 
than any other class of scientific men, and they would be greatly 
damaging their own interests if they formed an exclusive fund 
for themselves. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 



In November 1859 ^he Origin of Species was published, 
and a new direction wa^ given to Huxley's activities. Ever 
since Darwin and Wallace had made their joint communica- 
tion to the Linnean Society in the preceding July, expecta- 
tion had been rife as to the forthcoming book. Huxley 
was one of the few privileged to learn Darwin's argument 
before it was given to the world ; but the greatness of the 
book, mere instalment as it was of the long accumulated 
mass of notes, almost took him by surprise. Before this 
time, he had taken up a thoroughly agnostic attitude with 
regard to the species question, for he could not accept the 
creational theory, yet sought in vain among the transmu- 
tationists for any cause adequate to produce transmuta- 
tion. He had had many talks with Darwin, and though 
ready enough to accept the main point, maintained such a 
critical attitude on many others, that Darwin was not by 
any means certain of the effect the published book would 
produce upon him. Indeed, in his 1857 notebook, I find 
jotted down under the head of his paper on Pygocephalus 
(read at the Geological Society), " anti-progressive confes- 
sion of faith." Darwin was the more anxious, as, when he 
first put pen to paper, he had fixed in his mind three judges, 
by whose decision he determined mentally to abide. These 
three were Lyell, Hooker, and Huxley. If these three came 
round, partly through the book, partly through their own 
reflections, he could feel that the subject was safe. " No 
one," writes Darwin on November 13, " has read it, except 
Lyell, with whom I have had much correspondence. 


Hooker thinks him a complete convert, but he does not 
seem so in his letters to me ; but is evidently deeply inter- 
ested in the subject." And again : '* I think I told you 
before that Hooker is a complete convert. If I can con- 
vert Huxley I shall be content." {Life^ vol. ii. p. 221.) 

On all three, the effect of the book itself, with its de- 
tailed arguments and overwhelming array of evidence, was 
far greater than that of previous discussions. With one or 
two reservations as to the logical completeness of the theory, 
Huxley accepted it as a well-founded working hypothesis, 
calculated to explain problems otherwise inexplicable. 

Two extracts from the chapter he contributed to the 
Life of Darwin show very clearly his attitude of mind when 
the Origin of Species was first published: — 

Extract from " The Reception of the * Origin of Species ' " in 
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. ii. pp. 187-90 and 

I think I must have read the Vestiges before I left England 
in 1846; but, if I did, the book made very little impression upon 
me, and I was not brought into serious contact with the 
** Species " question until after 1850. At that time, I had long 
done with the Pentateuchal cosmogony, which had been im- 
pressed upon my childish understanding as Divine truth, with 
all the authority of parents and instructors, and from which it 
had cost me many a struggle to get free. But my mind was 
unbiassed in respect of any doctrine which presented itself, if it 
professed to be based on purely philosophical and scientific rea- 
soning. It seemed to me then (as it does now) that " creation,'* 
in the ordinary sense of the word, is perfectly conceivable. I 
find no difficulty in conceiving that, at some former period, tliis 
universe was not in existence; and that it made its appearance 
in six days (or instantaneously, if that is preferred), in conse- 
quence of the volition of some pre-existing Being. Then, as 
now, the so-called a priori arguments against Theism, and, given 
a Deity, against the possibility of creative acts, appeared to me 
to be devoid of reasonable foundation. I had not then, and I 
have not now, the smallest a priori objection to raise to the 
account of the creation of animals and plants given in Paradise 
Lost, in which Milton so vividly embodies the natural sense of 
Genesis. Far be it from me to say that it is untrue because it 


is impossible. I confine myself to what must be regarded as 
a modest and reasonable request for some particle of evidence 
that the existing species of animals and plants did originate in 
that way, as a condition of my belief in a statement which 
appears to me to be highly improbable. 

And, by way of being perfectly fair, I had exactly the same 
answer to give to the evolutionists of 1851-58. Within the 
ranks of the biologists, at that time, I met with nobody, except 
Dr. Grant of University College, who had a word to say for 
Evolution — and his advocacy was not calculated to advance the 
cause. Outside these ranks, the only person known to me whose 
knowledge and capacity compelled respect, and who was, at the 
same time, a thorough-going evolutionist, was Mr. Herbert 
Spencer, whose acquaintance I made, I think, in 1852, and then 
entered into the bonds of a friendship which, I am happy to 
think, has known no interruption. Many and prolonged were 
the battles we fought on this topic. But even my friend's rare 
dialectic skill and copiousness of apt illustration could not drive 
me from my agnostic position. I took my stand upon two 
grounds: — Firstly, that up to that time, the evidence in favour 
of transmutation was wholly insufficient; and secondly, that no 
suggestion respecting the causes of transmutation assumed, 
which had been made, was in any way adequate to explain the 
phenomena. Looking back at the state of knowledge at that 
time, I really do not see that any other conclusion was justi- 

In those days I had never even heard of Treviranus' Biolo- 
gie. However, I had studied Lamarck attentively, and I had 
read the Vestiges with due care; but neither of them afforded 
me any good ground for changing my negative and critical atti- 
tude. As for the Vestiges, I confess that the book simply irri- 
tated me by the prodigious ignorance and thoroughly unscientific 
habit of mind manifested by the writer. If it had any influence 
on me at all, it set me against Evolution ; and the only review I 
ever have qualms of conscience about, on the ground of need- 
less savagery, is one I wrote on the Vestiges while under that 
influence. . . . 

But, by a curious irony of fate, the same influence which led 
me to put as little faith in modem speculations on this subject as 
in the venerable traditions recorded in the first two chapters of 
Genesis, was perhaps more potent than any other in keeping 
alive a sort of pious conviction that Evolution, after all, would 
turn out true. I have recently read afresh the first edition of 


the Principles of Geology; and when I consider that this re- 
markable book had been nearly thirty years in everybody's hands, 
and that it brings home to any reader of ordinary intelligence 
a g^eat principle and a great fact, — the principle that the past 
must be explained by the present, unless good cause be shown 
to the contrary; and the fact that so far as our knowledge of 
the past history of life on our globe goes, no such cause can be 
shown, — I cannot but believe that Lyell, for others, as for my- 
self, was the chief agent in smoothing the road for Darwin. For 
consistent uniformitarianism postulates Evolution as much in 
the organic as in the inorganic world. The origin of a new 
species by other than ordinary agencies would be a vastly 
greater " catastrophe " than any of those which Lyell success- 
fully eliminated from sober geological speculation. 

Thus, looking back into the past, it seems to me that my own 
position of critical expectancy was just and reasonable, and 
must have been taken up, on the same grounds, by many other 
persons. If Agassiz told me that the forms of life which have 
successively tenanted the globe were the incarnations of succes- 
sive thoughts of the Deity, and that He had wiped out one set 
of these embodiments by an appalling geological catastrophe 
as soon as His ideas took a more advanced shape, I found myself 
not only unable to admit the accuracy of the deductions from 
the facts of paleontology, upon which this astounding hypoth- 
esis was founded, but I had to confess my want of any means 
of testing the correctness of his explanation of them. And 
besides that, I could by no means see what the explanation ex- 
plained. Neither did it help me to be told by an eminent 
anatomist that species had succeeded one another in time, in 
virtue of "a continuously operative creational law." That 
seemed to me to be no more than saying that species had succeed- 
ed one another in the form of a vote-catching resolution, with 
" law " to catch the man of science, and " creational " to draw 
the orthodox. So I took refuge in that " thatige Skepsis " which 
Goethe has so well defined; and, reversing the apostolic precept 
to be all things to all men, I usually defended the tenability of 
the received doctrines when I had to do with the transmuta- 
tionist ; and stood up for die possibility of transmutation among 
the orthodox — thereby, no doubt, increasing an already current, 
but quite undeserved, reputation for needless combativeness. 

I remember, in the course of my first interview with Mr. 
Darwin, expressing my belief in the sharpness of the lines of 
demarcation between natural groups and in the absence of 


transitional forms, with all the confidence of youth and imper- 
fect knowledge. I was not aware, at that time, that he had then 
been many years brooding over the species-question; and the 
humorous smile which accompanied his gentle answer, that such 
was not altogether his view, long haunted and puzzled me. But 
it would seem that four or five years' hard work had enabled 
me to understand what it meant; for Lyell, writing to Sir 
Charles Bunbury (under date of April 30, 1856), says: — 

" When Huxley, Hooker and WoUaston were at Darwin's 
last week, they (all four of them) ran a tilt against species — 
further, I believe, than they are prepared to go." 

I recollect nothing of this beyond the fact of meeting Mr. 
Wollaston; and except for Sir Charles's distinct assurance as 
to " all four," I should have thought my outrecuidance was 
probably a counterblast to WoUaston's conservatism. With re- 
gard to Hooker, he was already, like Voltaire's Habbakuk, capa- 
ble de tout in the way of advocating Evolution. 

As I have already said, I imagine that most of those of 
my contemporaries who thought seriously about the matter, 
were very much in my own state of mind — inclined to say 
to both Mosaists and Evolutionists, " a plague on both your 
houses ! " and disposed to turn aside from an interminable and 
apparently fruitless discussion, to labour in the fertile fields of 
ascertainable fact. And I may therefore suppose that the pub- 
lication of the Darwin and Wallace paper in 1858, and still more 
that of the " Origin " in 1859, had the effect upon them of the 
flash of light which, to a man who has lost himself on a dark 
night, suddenly reveals a road which, whether it takes him 
straight home or not, certainly goes his way. That which we 
were looking for, and could not find, was a hypothesis respect- 
ing the origin of known organic forms which assumed the opera- 
tion of no causes but such as could be proved to be actually at 
work. We wanted, not to pin our faith to that or any other 
speculation, but to get hold of clear and definite conceptions 
which could be brought face to face with facts and have their 
validity tested. The " Origin " provided us with the working 
hypothesis we sought. Moreover, it did the immense service of 
freeing us for ever from the dilemma — Refuse to accept the 
creation hypothesis, and what have you to propose that can be 
accepted by any cautious reasoner? In 1857 I had no answer 
ready, and I do not think that anyone else had. A year later we 
reproached ourselves with dulness for being perplexed with such 
an inquiry. My reflection, when I first made myself master of 


the central idea of the "Origin " was, " How extremely stupid 
not to have thought of that ! " I suppose that Columbus' com- 
panions said much the same when he made the t%% stand on 
end. The facts of variability, of the struggle for existence, of 
adaptation to conditions, were notorious enough; but none of 
us had suspected that the road to the heart of the species prob- 
lem lay through them, until Darwin and Wallace dispelled the 
darkness, and the beacon-fire of the " Origin " guided the be- 

Whether the particular shape which the doctrine of Evolu- 
tion, as applied to the organic world, took in Darwin's hands, 
would prove to be final or not, was to me a matter of indiffer- 
ence. In my earliest criticisms of the " Origin " I ventured to 
point out that its logical foundation was insecure so long as 
experiments in selective breeding had not produced varieties 
which were more or less infertile; and that insecurity remains 
up to the present time. But, with any and every critical doubt 
which my sceptical ingenuity could suggest, the Darwinian 
hypothesis remained incomparably more probable than the cre- 
ation hypothesis. And if we had none of us been able to dis- 
cern the paramount significance of some of the most patent 
and notorious of natural facts, until they were, so to speak, 
thrust under our noses, what force remained in the dilemma — 
creation or nothing? It was obvious that hereafter the proba- 
bility would be immensely greater, that the links of natural 
causation were hidden from our purblind eyes, than that natural 
causation should be incompetent to produce all the phenomena 
of nature* The only rational course for those who had no other 
object than the attainment of truth was to accept " Darwinism " 
as a working hypothesis and see what could be made of it. 
Either it would prove its capacity to elucidate the facts of 
organic life, or it would break down under the strain. This 
was surely the dictate of common sense, and, for once, common 
sense carried the day. 

Even before the " Origin " actually came out, Huxley 
had begun to act as what Darwin afterwards called his " gen- 
eral agent" He began to prepare the way for the accept- 
ance of the theory of evolution by discussing, for instance, 
one of the most obvious difficulties, namely, How is it that 
if evolution is ever progressive, progress is not universal? 
It was a point with respect to which Darwin himself wrote 
soon after the publication of the " Origin " : — " Judging 


from letters . . . and from remarks, the most serious omis- 
sion in my book was not explaining how it is, as I believe, 
that all forms do not necessarily advance, how there can 
now be simple organisms existing." (May 22, i860.) 

Huxley's idea, then, was to call attention to the persist- 
ence of many types without appreciable progression during 
geological time ; to show that this fact was not explicable 
on any other hypothesis than that put forward by Darwin ; 
and by paleontological arguments, to pave the way for con- 
sideration of the imperfection of the geological record. 

Such were the lines on which he delivered his Friday 
evening lecture on " Persistent Types " at the Royal Insti- 
tution on June 3, 1859. 

However, the chief part which he took at this time in 
extending the doctrines of evolution was in applying them 
to his own subjects. Development and Vertebrate Anatomy, 
and more particularly to the question of the origin of 

Of all the burning questions connected with the Origin 
of Species, this was the most heated — the most surrounded 
by prejudice and passion. To touch it was to court attack ; 
to be exposed to endless scorn, ridicule, misrepresentation, 
abuse — almost to social ostracism. But the facts were there ; 
the structural likenesses between the apes and man had 
already been shown ; and as Huxley warned Darwin, " I 
will stop at no point so long as clear reasoning will carry 
me f>irrther." 

Now two years before the " Origin '' appeared, the denial 
of these facts by a leading anatomist led Huxley, as was his 
wont, to re-investigate the question for himself and satisfy 
himself one way or the other. He found that the previous 
investigators were not mistaken. Without going out of his 
way to refute the mis-statement as publicly as it was made, 
he simply embodied his results in his regular teaching. But 
the opportunity came unsought. Fortified by his own re- 
searches, he openly challenged these assertions when re- 
peated at the Oxford meeting of the British Association in 
i860, and promised to make good his challenge in the 
proper place. 


We also find him combating some of the difficulties in 
the way of accepting the theory laid before him by Sir 
Charles Lyell. The veteran geologist had been Darwin's 
confidant from almost the beginning of his speculations ; he 
had really paved the way for the evolutionary doctrine by 
his own proof of geological uniformity, but he shrank from 
accepting it, for its inevitable extension to the descent of 
man was repugnant to his feelings. Nevertheless, he would 
not allow sentiment to stand in the way of truth, and after 
the publication of the " Origin " it could be said of him — 

Lyell, up to that time a pillar of the anti-transmutationists 
(who regarded him, ever after, as Pallas Athene may have 
looked at Dian, after die Endymion affair), declared himself a 
Darwinian, though not without putting in a serious caveat. 
Nevertheless, he was a tower of strength, and his courageous 
stand for truth as against consistency did him infinite honour. 
— (T. H. H. in Life of Darwin, vol ii. p. 231.) 

To Sir Charles Lyell 

/une 25, 1859. 
My dear Sir Charles — I have endeavoured to meet your 
objections in the enclosed. — Ever yours, very truly, 

T. H. H. 

The fixity and definite limitation of species, genera, and 
larger groups appear to me to be perfectly consistent with the 
theory of transmutation. In other words, I think transmutation 
may take place without transition. 

Suppose that external conditions acting on species A give 
rise to a new species, B ; the difference between the two species 
is a certain definable amount which may be called A-B. Now 
I know of no evidence to show that the interval between the 
two species must necessarily be bridged over by a series of 
forms, each of which shall occupy, as it occurs, a fraction of 
the distance between A and B. On the contrary, in the history 
of the Ancon sheep, and of the six-fingered Maltese family, 
given by Reaumur, it appears that the new form appeared at 
once in full perfection. 

I may illustrate what I mean by a chemical example. In an 
organic compound, having a precise and definite composition, 
you may effect all sorts of transmutations by substituting an 


atom of one element for an atom of another element You may 
in this way produce a vast series of modifications — ^but each 
modification is definite in its composition, and there are no tran- 
sitional or intermediate steps between one definite compound and 
another. I have a sort of notion that similar laws of definite 
combination rule over the modifications of organic bodies, and 
that in passing from species to species ** Natura fecit saltum." 

All my studies lead me to believe more and more in the 
absence of any real transitions between natural groups, g^eat 
and small — ^but with what we know of the physiology of con- 
ditions [ ?] this opinion seems to me to be quite consistent with 

When I say that no evidence, or hardly any, would justify 
one in believing in the view of a new species of Elephant, e,g. 
out of the earth, I mean that such an occurrence would be so 
diametrically contrary to all experience, so opposed to those 
beliefs which are the most constantly verified by experience, 
that one would be justified in believing either that one's senses 
were deluded, or that one had not really got to the bottom of 
the phenomenon. Of course, if one could vary the conditions, 
if one could take a little silex, and by a little hocus-pocus a la 
crosse, galvanise a baby out of it as often as one pleased, all 
the philosopher could do would be to hold up his hands and cry, 
" God is great." But short of evidence of this kind, I don't mean 
to believe an3rthing of the kind. 

How much evidence would you require to believe that there 
was a time when stones fell upwards, or granite made itself by a 
spontaneous rearrangement of the elementary particles of clay 
and sand? And yet the difficulties in the way of these beliefs 
are as nothing compared to those which you would have to over- 
come in believing that complex organic beings made themselves 
(for that is what creation comes to in scientific language) out 
of inorganic matter. 

I know it will be said that even on the transmutation theory, 
the first organic being must have made itself. But there is as 
much difference between supposing the passage of inorganic 
matter into an amoeba, e.g., and into an Elephant, as there is 
between supposing that Portland stone might have built itself 
up into St. Paul's, and believing that the Giant's Causeway may 
have come about by natural causes. 

True, one must believe in a beginning somewhere, but sci- 
ence consists in not believing the having reached that beginning 
before one is forced to do so. 


It is wholly impossible to prove that any phenomenon what- 
soever is not produced by the interposition of some unknown 
cause. But philosophy has prospered exactly as it has disre- 
garded such possibilities, and has endeavoured to resolve every 
event by ordinary reasoning. 

I do not exactly see the force of your argument that we 
are bound to find fossil forms intermediate between men and 
monkeys in the Rocks. Crocodiles are the highest reptiles as 
men are the highest mammals, but we find nothing intermediate 
between crocodilia and lacertilia in the whole range of the 
Mesozoic rocks. How do we know that Man is not a persistent 
type? And as for implements, at this day, and as, I suppose, 
for the last two or three thousand years at least, the savages of 
Australia have made their weapons of nothing but bone and 
wood. Why should Homo Eocenus or Ooliticus, the fellows 
who waddied the Amphitherium and speared the Phascolo- 
therium as the Australian niggers treat their congeners, have 
been more advanced ? 

I by no means suppose that the transmutation hypothesis is 
proven or anything like it But I view it as a powerful instru- 
ment of research. Follow it out, and it will lead us somewhere ; 
while the other notion is like all the modifications of "final 
causation," a barren virgin. 

And I would very strongly urge upon you that it is the 
logical development of Uniformitarianism, and that its adoption 
would harmonise the spirit of Paleontology with that of Physical 



The " Origin " appeared in November. As soon as he 
had read it, Huxley wrote the following letter to Darwin 
(already published in Life of Darwin, vol. ii. p. 231) : — 

Jermyn Street, W., November 23, 1859. 

My dear Darwin — I finished your book yesterday, a lucky 
examination having furnished me with a few hours of con- 
tinuous leisure. 

Since I read Von Bar's essays, nine years ago, no work on 
Natural History Science I have met with has made so great 
an impression upon me, and I do most heartily thank you for 
the great store of new views you have given me. Nothing, I 
think, can be better than the tone of the book ; it impresses those 
who know about the subject As for your doctrine, I am pre- 
pared to go to the stake, if requisite, in support of Chapter IX * 
and most parts of Chapters X, XI, XII, and Chapter XIII con- 
tains much that is most admirable, but on one or two points I 
enter a caveat until I can see further into all sides of the 

As to the first four chapters.f I agree thoroughly and fully 
with all the principles laid down in them. I think you have 
demonstrated a true cause for the production of species, and 
have thrown the onus probandi, that species did not arise in 
the way you suppose, on your adversaries. 

* Chapter IX, The Imperfection of the Geological Record ; X, The 
Geological Succession of Organic Beings ; XI-XII, Geographical Dis- 
tribution ; XIII, Classification, Morphology, Embryology, and Rudi- 
mentary Organs. 

f Chapter I, Variation under Domestication ; II, Variation under 
Nature ; III, The Struggle for Existence ; IV, Operation of Natural 
Selection ; V, Laws of Variation. 


But I feel that I have not yet by any means fully realised 
the bearings of those most remarkable and original Chapters 
— Ill, IV, and V, and I will write no more about them just now. 

The only objections that have occurred to me are — ist, That 
you have loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty in adopt- 
ing Natura non facit saltufn so unreservedly ; and 2nd, It is not 
clear to me why, if continual physical conditions are of so little 
moment as you suppose, variation should occur at all. 

However, I must read the book two or three times more 
before I presume to begin picking holes. 

I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted 
or annoyed by the considerable abuse and misrepresentation 
which, unless I greatly mistake, is in store for you. Depend 
upon it, you have earned the lasting gratitude of all thoughtful 
men. And as to the curs which will bark and yelp, you must 
recollect that some of your friends, at any rate, are endowed 
with an amount of combativeness which (though you have often 
and justly rebuked it) may stand you in good stead. 

I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness. 

Looking back over my letter, it really expresses so feebly all 
I think about you and your noble book, that I am half-ashamed 
of it ; but you will understand that, like the parrot in the story, 
" I think the more." — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

A month later, fortune put into his hands the oppor- 
tunity of striking a vigorous and telling blow for the newly- 
published book. Never was windfall more eagerly accepted. 
A short account of this lucky chance was written by him 
for the Darwin Life (vol. i. p. 255). 

The " Origin " was sent to Mr. Lucas, one of the staff of the 
Times writers at that day, in what was I suppose the ordinary 
course of business. Mr. Lucas, though an excellent journalist, 
and at a later period, editor of Once a Week, was as innocent 
of any knowledge of science as a babe, and bewailed himself 
to an acquaintance on having to deal with such a book. Where- 
upon, he was recommended to ask me to get him out of his 
difficulty, and he applied to me accordingly, explaining, how- 
ever, that it would be necessary for him formally to adopt any- 
thing I might be disposed to write, by prefacing it with two 
or three paragraphs of his own. 

I was too anxious to seize upon the opportunity thus offered 



of giving the book a fair chance with the multitudinous readers 
of the Times, to make any difficulty about conditions ; and being 
then very full of the subject, I wrote the article faster, I think, 
than I ever wrote anything in my life, and sent it to Mr. Lucas, 
who duly prefixed his opening sentences. 

When the article appeared, there was much speculation as 
to its authorship. The secret leaked out in time, as all secrets 
will, but not by my aid ; and then I used to derive a good deal of 
innocent amusement from the vehement assertions of some of 
my more acute friends, that they knew it was mine from the first 
paragraph ! 

As the Times some years since, referred to my connection 
with the review, I suppose there will be no breach of confidence 
in the publication of this little history, if you think it worth the 
space it will occupy. 

The article appeared on December 26. Only Hooker 
was admitted into the secret. In an undated note Huxley 
writes to him : — 

I have written the other review you wot of, and have handed 
it over to my friend to deal as he likes with it . . . Darwin will 
laugh over a letter that I sent him this morning with a vignette 
of the Jermyn Street " pet " ready to fight his battle, and the 
" judicious Hooker " holding the bottle. 

And on December 31 he writes again : — 

Jermyn Street, December 31, 1859. 

My dear Hooker — I have not the least objection to my 
share in the Times article being known, only I should not like to 
have anything stated on my authority. The fact is, that the first 
quarter of the first column (down to " what is a species," etc.) is 
not mine, but belongs to the man who is the official reviewer for 
the Times (my " Temporal " godfather I might call him). 

The rest is in my ipsissima verba, and I only wonder that it 
turns out as well as it does — for I wrote it faster than ever I 
wrote anything in my life. The last column nearly as fast as 
my wife could read the sheets. But I was thoroughly in the 
humour and full of the subject. Of course as a scientific review 
the thing is worth nothing, but I earnestly hope it may have 
made some of the educated mob, who derive their ideas from 
the Times, reflect. And whatever they do, they shall respect 

Pray give my kindest regards and best wishes for the New 



Year to Mrs. Hooker, and tell her that if she, of her own natural 
sagacity and knowledge of the naughtiness of my heart, affirms 
that I wrote the article, I shall not contradict her — ^but that for 
reasons of state — I must not be supposed to say anything. I am 
pretty certain the Saturday article was not written by Owen. 
On internal grounds, because no word in it exceeds an inch in 
length; on external, from what Cook said to me. The article 
is weak enough and one-sided enough, but looking at the various 
forces in action, I think Cook has fully redeemed his promise 
to me. 

I went down to Sir P. Egerton on Tuesday — was ill when I 
started, got worse and had to come back on Thursday. I am all 
adrift now, but I couldn't stand being in the house any longer. 
I wish I had been born an an-hepatous foetus. 

All sorts of good wishes to you, and may you and I and 
Tyndalides, and one or two more bricks, be in as good fighting 
order in 1S61 as in i860. — Ever yours, T. H. Huxley. 

Speaking of this period and the half-dozen preceding 
years, in his 1894 preface to Man's Place in Nature he 
says : — 

Among the many problems which came under my considera- 
tion, the position of the human species in zoological classifica- 
tion was one of the most serious. Indeed, at that time it was a 
burning question in the sense that those who touched it were 
almost certain to burn their fingers severely. It was not so 
very loiig since my kind friend. Sir William J-awrence, one of 
the ablest men whom I have known, had been well-nigh ostra- 
cised for his book On Man, which now might be read in a Sun- 
day school without surprising anybody ; it was only a few years 
since the electors to the chair of Natural History in a famous 
northern university had refused to invite a very distinguished 
man to occupy it because he advocated the doctrine of the diver- 
sity of species of mankind, or what was called "polygeny." 
Even among those who considered man from the point of view, 
not of vulgar prejudice, but of science, opinions lay poles 
asunder. Linnaeus had taken one view, Cuvier another; and 
among my senior contemporaries, men like Lyell, regarded by 
many as revolutionaries of the deepest dye, were strongly op- 
posed to anything which tended to break down the barrier be- 
tween man and the rest of the animal world. 

My own mind was by no means definitely made up about this 


matter when, in the year 1857, ^ paper was read before the 
Linnxan Society " On the Characters, Principles of Division 
and Primary Groups of the Class Mammalia/' in which certain 
anatomical features of the brain were said to be "peculiar to 
the genus ' Homo/ " and were made the chief ground for sepa- 
rating that genus from all other mammals and placing him in 
a division, " Archencephala," apart from, and superior to, all 
the rest. As these statements did not agree with the opinions 
I had formed, I set to work to reinvestigate the subject; and 
soon satisfied myself that the structures in question were not 
peculiar to Man, but were shared by him with all the higher 
and many of the lower apes. I embarked in no public discus- 
sion of these matters, but my attention being thus drawn to 
them, I studied the whole question of the structural relations 
of Man to the next lower existing forms, with much care. And, 
of course, I embodied my conclusions in my teaching. 

Matters were at this point when the Origin of Species ap- 
peared. The weighty sentence, "Light will be thrown on the 
origin of man and his history" (ist edition, p. 488), was not 
only in full harmony with the conclusions at which I had arrived 
respecting the structural relations of apes and men, but was 
strongly supported by them. And inasmuch as Development 
and Vertebrate Anatomy were not among Mr. Darwin's many 
specialities, it appeared to me that I should not be intruding 
on the ground he had made his own, if I discussed this part 
of the general question. In fact, I thought that I might prob- 
ably serve the cause of Evolution by doing so. 

Some experience of popular lecturing had convinced me that 
the necessity of making things clear to uninstructed people was 
one of the very best means of clearing up the obscure comers 
in one's own mind. So, in i860, I took the Relation of Man to 
the Lower Animals for the subject of the six lectures to work- 
ing men which it was my duty to deliver. It was also in i860 
that this topic was discussed before a jury of experts at the 
meeting of the British Association at Oxford, and from that 
time a sort of running fight on the same subject was carried on, 
until it culminated at the Cambridge Meeting of the Association 
in 1862, by my friend Sir W. Flower's public demonstration of 
the existence in the apes of those cerebral characters which had 
been said to be peculiar to man. 

The famous Oxford Meeting of i860 was of no small 
importance in Huxley's career. It was not merely that he 

i860 the oxford MEETING OF i860 193 

helped to save a great cause from being stifled under mis- 
representation and ridicule — that he helped to extort for it a 
fair hearing ; it was now that he first made himself known in 
popular estimation as a dangerous adversary in debate — a 
personal force in the world of science which could not be 
neglected. From this moment he entered the front fighting 
line in the most exposed quarter of the field. 

Most unluckily, no contemporary account of his own 
exists of the encounter. Indeed, the same cause which 
prevented his writing home the story of the day's work 
nearly led to his absence from the scene. It was known 
that Bishop Wilberforce, whose first class in mathematics 
gave him, in popular estimation, a right to treat on scientific 
matters, intended to " smash Darwin " ; and Huxley, ex- 
pecting that the promised debate would be merely an appeal 
to prejudice in a mixed audience, before which the scientific 
arguments of the Bishop's opponents would be at the utmost 
disadvantage, intended to leave Oxford that very morning 
and join his wife at Hardwicke, near Reading, where she was 
staying with her sister. But in a letter, quoted below, he 
tells how, on the Friday afternoon, he chanced to meet 
Robert Chambers, the reputed author of the Vestiges of 
Creation, who begged him " not to desert them." Accord- 
ingly he postponed his departure ; but seeing his wife next 
morning, had no occasion to write a letter. 

Several accounts of the scene are already in existence : 
one in the Life of Darwin (vol. ii. p. 320), another in the 
1892 Life, p. 236 sq. ; a third that of Lyell '(vol. ii. p. 335), 
the slight differences between them representing the differ- 
ence between individual recollections of eye-witnesses. In 
addition to these I have been fortunate enough to secure 
further reminiscences from several other eye-witnesses. 

Two papers in Section D, of no great importance in 
themselves, became historical as affording the opponents of 
Darwin their opportunity of making an attack upon his 
theory which should tell with the public. The first was on 
Thursday, June 28. Dr. Daubeny of Oxford made a com- 
munication to the Section, " On the final causes of the sex- 
uality of plants, with particular reference to Mr. Darwin's 


work on the Origin of Species," * Huxley was called upon 
to speak by the President, but tried to avoid a discussion, 
on the ground "that a general audience, in which senti- 
ment would unduly interfere with intellect, was not the 
public before which such a discussion should be carried on." 

This consideration, however, did not stop the discussion ; 
it was continued by Owen. He said he " wished to ap- 
proach the subject in the spirit of the philosopher," and 
declared his " conviction that there were facts by which the 
public could come to some conclusion with regard to the 
probabilities of the truth of Mr. Darwin's theory." As 
one of these facts, he stated that the brain of the gorilla 
" presented more differences, as compared with the brain of 
man, than it did when compared with the brains of the very 
lowest and most problematical of the Quadrumana." 

Now this was the very point, as said above, upon which 
Huxley had made special investigations during the last two 
years, with precisely opposite results, such as, indeed, had 
been arrived at by previous investigators. Hereupon he 
replied, giving these assertions a " direct and unqualified 
contradiction," and pledging himself to "justify that un- 
usual procedure elsewhere," — ^ pledge which was amply 
fulfilled in the pages of the Natural History Review for 
1861. ^ 

Accordingly it was to him, thus marked out as the 
champion of the most debatable thesis of evolution, that, 
two days later, the Bishop addressed his sarcasms, only to 
meet with a withering retort. For on the Friday there was 
peace; but on the Saturday came a yet fiercer battle over 
the " Origin," which loomed all the larger in the public eye, 
because it was not merely the contradiction of one anatomist 
by another, but the open clash between Science and the 
Church. It was, moreover, not a contest of bare bact or 
abstract assertion, but a combat of wit between two indi- 
viduals, spiced with the personal element which appeals to 
one of the strongest instincts of every large audience. 

* My best thanks are due to Mr. F. Darwin for permission to quote 
his accounts of the meeting ; other citations are from the Athemeum 
reports of July 14, i860. 



It was the merest chance, as I have already said, that 
Huxley attended the meeting of the section that morning. 
Dr. Draper of New York was to read a paper on the " In- 
tellectual Development of Europe considered with refer- 
ence to the views of Mr. Darwin." " I can still hear," writes 
one who was present, " the American accents of Dr. Draper's 
opening address when he asked ' Air we a fortuitous con- 
course of atoms ? ' " However, it was not to hear him, but 
the eloquence of the Bishop, that the members of the Asso- 
ciation crowded in such numbers into the Lecture Room 
of the Museum, that this, the appointed meeting-place of 
the section, had to be abandoned for the long west room, 
since cut in two by a partition for the purposes of the 
library. It was not term time, nor were the general public 
admitted ; nevertheless the room was crowded to suffocation 
long before the protagonists appeared on the scene, 700 
persons or more managing to find places. The very win- 
dows by which the room was lighted down the length of 
its west side were packed with ladies, whose white handker- 
chiefs, waving and fluttering in the air at the end of the 
Bishop's speech, were an unforgettable factor in the accla- 
mation of the crowd. 

On the east side between the two doors was the plat- 
form. Professor Henslow, the President of the section, took 
his seat in the centre; upon his right was the Bishop, and 
beyond him again Dr. Draper; on his extreme left was Mr. 
Dingle, a clergyman from Lanchester, near Durham, with 
Sir J. Hooker and Sir J. Lubbock in front of him, and 
nearer the centre, Professor Beale of King's College, Lon- 
don, and Huxley. 

The clergy, who shouted lustily for the Bishop, were 
massed in the middle of the room; behind them in the 
north-west corner a knot of undergraduates (one of these 
was T. H. Green, who listened but took no part in the 
cheering) had gathered together beside Professor Brodie, 
ready to lift their voices, poor minority though they were, 
for the opposite party. Close to them stood one of the 
few men among the audience already in Holy orders, who 
joined in — and indeed led — the cheers for the Darwinians. 


So " Dr. Draper droned out his paper, turning first to 
the right hand and then to the left, of course bringing in a 
reference to the Origin of Species which set the ball roll- 

An hour or more that paper lasted, and then discus- 
sion began. The President " wisely announced in limine 
that none who had not valid arguments to bring forward on 
one side or the other would be allowed to address the meet- 
ing ; a caution that proved necessary, for no fewer than four . 
combatants had their utterances burked by him, because of 
their indulgence in vague declamation." * 

First spoke (writes Professor Farrarf) a layman from 
Brompton, who gave his name as being one of the Committee 
of the (newly formed) Economic section of the Association. 
He, in a stentorian voice, let off his theological venom. Then 
jumped up Richard Greswell X with a thin voice, saying much 
the same, but speaking as a scholar ; but we did not merely want 
any theological discussion, so we shouted them down. Then a 
Mr. Dingle got up and tried to show that Darwin would have 
done much better if he had taken him into consultation. He 
used the blackboard and began a mathematical demonstration 
on the question — " Let this point A be man, and let that point 
B be the mawnkey." He got no further; he was shouted down 
with cries of " mawnkey." None of these had spoken more than 
three minutes. It was when these were shouted down that 
Henslow said he must demand that the discussion should rest 
on scientiHc grounds only. 

Then there were calls for the Bishop, but he rose and said 
he understood his friend Professor Beale had something to say 
first. Beale, who was an excellent histologist, spoke to the effect 
that the new theory ought to meet with fair discussion, but 
added, with great modesty, that he himself had not sufficient 
knowledge to discuss the subject adequately. Then the Bishop 
spoke the speech that you know, and the question about his 
mother being an ape, or his grandmother. 

From the scientific point of view, the speech was of 
small value. It was evident from his mode of handling the 
subject that he had been " crammed up to the throat," and 

* Li/e of Darwin^ l.c, f Canon of Durham. 

X Rev. Richard Greswell, B.D„ Tutor of Worcester College. 



knew nothing at first hand ; he used no argument beyond 
those to be found in his Quarterly article, which appeared 
a few days later, and is now admitted to have been in- 
spired by Owen. " He ridiculed Darwin badly and Huxley 
savagely; but," confesses one of his strongest opponents, 
" all in such dulcet tones, so persuasive a manner, and in 
such well turned periods, that I who had been inclined to 
blame the President for allowing a discussion that could 
serve no scientific purpose, now forgave him from the bot- 
tom of my heart." * 

The Bishop spoke thus " for full half an hour with 
inimitable spirit, emptiness and unfairness." " In a light, 
scoffing tone, florid and fluent, he assured us there was 
nothing in the idea of evolution; rock-pigeons were what 
rock-pigeons had always been. Then, turning to his antag- 
onist with a smiling insolence, he begged to know, was it 
through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed 
his descent from a monkey ? " f n» 

This was the fatal mistake of his speech. Huxley in- 
stantly grasped the tactical advantage which the descent to 
personalities gave him. He turned to Sir Benjamin Brodie, 
who was sitting beside him, and emphatically striking his 
hand upon his knee, exclaimed, " The Lord hath delivered 
him into mine hands." The bearing of the exclamation 

* Li/f 0/ Darwin, l.c, 

f ** Reminiscences of a Grandmother/* Macmillan's Magafdne, Octo- 
ber 1898. Professor Farrar thinks this version of what the Bishop 
said is slightly inaccurate. His impression is that the words actually 
used seemed at the moment flippant and unscientific rather than inso- 
lent, vulgar, or personal. The Bishop, he writes, **had been ulking 
of the perpetuity of species of Birds ; and then, denying a fortiori the 
derivation of the species Man from Ape, he rhetorically invoked the 
aid of feelings and said, * If any one were to be willing to trace his 
descent through an ape as his grandfather, would he be willing to 
trace his descent similarly on the side of Yds grandmother ? * His false 
humour was an attempt to arouse the antipathy about degrading 
woman to the quadrumana. Your father's reply showed there was 
vulgarity as well as folly in the Bishop's words ; and the impression 
distinctly was, that the Bishop's party, as they left the room, felt 
abashed, and recognised that the Bishop had forgotten to behave like 
a perfect gentleman." 


did not dawn upon Sir Benjamin until after Huxley had 
completed his " forcible and eloquent " answer to the sci- 
entific part of the Bishop's argument, and proceeded to 
make his famous retort.* 

On this (continues the writer in MacmiUan's Magazine) Mr. 
Huxley slowly and deliberately arose. A slight tall figure, stern 
and pale, very quiet and very grave,t ^^ stood before us and 
spoke those tremendous words — words which no one seems sure 
of now, nor, I think, could remember just after they were spoken, 
for their meaning took away our breath, though it left us in no 
doubt as to what it was. He was not ashamed to have a monkey 
for his ancestor; but he would be ashamed to be connected with 
a man who used great gifts to obscure the truth. No one 
doubted his meaning, and the effect was tremendous. One lady 
fainted and had to be carried out; I, for one, jumped out of 
my seat. "N^ 

• The fullest and pro*^ bly most accurate account of the^ 
concluding words is ti * jllowing, from a letter of the late 

* The Athen4tum reports him as saying that Darwin's theory was 
an explanation of phenomena in Natural History, as the undulatory 
theory was of the phenomena of light. No one objected to that theory 
because an undulation of light had never been arrested and measured. 
Darwin's theory was an explanation of facts, and his book was full of 
new facts, all bearing on his theory. Without asserting that every 
part of that theory had been confirmed, he maintained that it was the 
best explanation of the origin of species which had yet been offered. 
With regard to the psychological distinction between men and ani- 
mals, man himself was once a monad — a mere atom, and nobody 
could say at what moment in the history of his development he 
became consciously intelligent. The question was not so much one 
of a transmutation or transition of species, as of the production of 
forms which became permanent. 

Thus the short-legged sheep of America was not produced grad- 
ually, but originated in the birth of an original parent of the whole 
stock, which had been kept up by a rigid system of artificial selec- 

f ** Young, cool, quiet, scientific — scientific in fact and in treat- 
ment." — ^J. R. Green. A certain piquancy must have been added to 
the situation by the superficial resemblance in feature between the 
two men, so different in temperament and expression. Indeed next 
day at Hardwicke, a friend came up to Mr. Fanning and asked who 
his guest was, saying, "Surely it is the son of the Bishop of Ox- 


John Richard Green, then an undergraduate, to his friend, 
afterwards Professor Boyd Dawkins * : — 

I asserted — and I repeat — ^that a man has no reason to be 
ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an 
ancestor whoin I should feel shame in recalling it would rather 
be a man — a man of restless and versatile intellect — who, not 
content with an equivocal f success in his own sphere of activity, 
plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real 
acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and 
distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue 
by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious preju- 
dice. X 

Further, Mr. A. G. Vemon-Harcourt, F.R.S., Reader in 
Chemistry at the University of Oxford, writes to me : — 

The Bishop had rallied your father as to the descent from a 
monkey, asking as a sort of joke how recent this had been, 
whether it was his grandfather or further back. Your father, 
in replying on this point, first explained that the suggestion was 
of descent through thousands. of generations from a common 
ancestor, and then went on to this effect — " But if this question 
is treated, not as a matter for the calm investigation of science, 
but as a matter of sentiment, and if I am asked whether I would 
choose to be descended from the poor animal of low intelligence 
and stooping gait, who grins and chatters as we pass, or from 
a man, endowed with great ability and a splendid position, who 
should use these gifts " [here, as the point became clear, there 
was a great outburst of applause, which mostly drowned the 
end of the sentence] " to discredit and crush humble seekers 
after truth, I hesitate what answer to make." 

* The writer in MacmillarCs tells me : ** I cannot quite accept Mr. 
J. R. Green's sentences as your father's, though I didn't doubt that 
they convey the sense ; but then I think that only a shorthand writer 
could reproduce Mr. Huxley's singularly beautiful style — so simple 
and so incisive. The sentence given is much too * Green.' " 

f My father once told me that he did not remember using the word 
** equivocal " in this speech. (See his letter below.) The late Professor 
Victor Carus had the same impression, which is corroborated by Pro- 
fessor Farrar. 

X As the late Henry Fawcett wrote in MacmillatCs Magazine^ i860: — 
**The retort was so justly deserved, and so inimitable in its manner, 
that no one who was present can ever forget the impression that it 



No doubt your father's words were better than these, and 
they gained effect from his clear, deliberate utterance, but in 
outline and in scale this represents truly what was said. 

After the commotion was over, " some voices called for 
Hooker, and his name having been handed up, the President 
invited him to give his view of the theory from the Botanical 
side. This he did, demonstrating that the Bishop, by his 
own showing, had never grasped the principles of the 
* Origin,' and that he was absolutely ignorant of the ele- 
ments of botanical science. The Bishop made no reply, 
and the meeting broke up." * 

Account of the Oxford Meeting by the Rev. W. H. 
Freemantle (in Charles Darwin, his Life Told, &c., 
1892, p. 238). 

The Bishop of Oxford attacked Darwin, at first playfully, 
but at last in grim earnest. It was known that the Bishop had 
written an article against Darwin in the last Quarterly Re- 
view f-f it was also rumoured that Professor Owen had been 
staying at Cuddesdon and had primed the Bishop, who was to 
act as mouthpiece to the great Palaeontologist, who did not him- 
self dare to enter the lists. The Bishop, however, did not show 
himself master of the facts, and made one serious blunder. A 
fact which had been much dwelt on as confirmatory of Darwin's 
idea of variation, was that a sheep had been bom shortly before 
in a flock in the North of England, having an addition of one 
to the vertebrae of the spine. The Bishop was declaring with 
rhetorical exaggeration that there was hardly any evidence on 
Darwin's side. " What have they to bring forward ? " he ex- 
claimed. " Some rumoured statement about a long-legged 
sheep." ' But he passed on to banter : " I should like to ask 
Professor Huxley, who is sitting by me, and is about to tear 
me to pieces when I have sat down, as to his belief in being 
descended from an ape. Is it on his grandfather's or his grand- 
mother's side that the ape ancestry comes in?" And then tak- 
ing a graver tone, he asserted, in a solemn peroration, that Dar- 
win's views were contrary to the revelation of God in the 
Scriptures. Professor Huxley was unwilling to respond: but 

♦ Li/e of Darwin^ i.e. 

t It appeared in the ensuing number for July. 


he was called for, and spoke with his usual incisiveness and 
with some scorn : " I am here only in the interests of science," 
he said, " and I have not heard anything which can prejudice 
the case of my august client." Then after showing how little 
competent the Bishop was to enter upon the discussion, he 
touched on the question of Creation. " You say that develop- 
ment drives out the Creator; but you assert tiiat God made 
you : and yet you know that you yourself were originally a little 
piece of matter, no bigger than the end of this gold pencil-case." 
Lastly as to the descent from a monkey, he said : " I should 
feel it no shame to have risen from such an origin ; but I should 
feel it a shame to have sprung from one who prostituted the 
gifts of culture and eloquence to the service of prejudice and of 

Many others spoke. Mr. Gresley, an old Oxford don, pointed 
out that in human nature at least orderly development was not 
the necessary rule: Homer was the greatest of poets, but he 
lived 3000 years ago, and has not produced his like. 

Admiral FitzRoy was present, and said he had often ex- 
postulated with his old comrade of the Beagle for entertaining 
views which were contradictory to the First Chapter of Genesis. 

Sir John Lubbock declared that many of the arguments by 
which the permanence of species was supported came to nothing, 
and instanced some wheat which was said to have come off an 
Egyptian mummy, and was sent to him to prove that wheat had 
not changed since the time of the Pharaohs; but which proved 
to be made of French chocolate. Sir Joseph (then Dr.) Hooker 
spoke shortly, saying that he had found'the hypothesis of Natu- 
ral Selection so helpful in explaining the phenomena of his own 
subject of Botany, that he had been constrained to accept it. 
After a few words from Darwin's old friend, Professor Hens- 
low, who occupied the chair, the meeting broke up, leaving the 
impression that those most capable of estimating die afguments 
of Darwin in detail saw their way to accept his conclusions. 

Note, — Sir John Lubbock also insisted on the embryological 
evidence for evolution. F. D. 

T. H. Huxley to Francis Darwin {ibid) 

June 27, 1 891. 
I should say that Freemantle's account is substantially correct, 
but that Green has the substance of my speech more accurately. 
However, I am certain I did not use the word, " equivocal." 


The odd part of the business is, that I should not have been 
present except for Robert Chambers. I had heard of the Bish- 
op's intention to utilise the occasion. I knew he had the 
reputation of being a first-class controversialist, and I was quite 
aware that if he played his cards properly, we should have little 
chance, with such an audience, of making an efficient defence. 
Moreover, I was very tired, and wanted to join my wife at her 
brother-in-law's country house near Reading, on the Saturday. 
On the Friday I met Chambers in the street, and in reply to 
some remark of his, about his going to the meeting, I said that 
I did not mean to attend it — did not see the good of giving up 
peace and quietness to be episcopally pounded. Chambers broke 
out into vehement remonstrances, and talked about my deserting 
them. So I said, " Oh ! if you are going to take it that way, 
I'll come and have my share of what is going on." 

So I came, and chanced to sit near old Sir Benjamin Brodie. 
The Bishop began his speech, and to my astonishment very 
soon showed that he was so ignorant that he did not know how 
to manage his own case. My spirits rose proportionately, and 
when he turned to me with his insolent question, I said to Sir 
Benjamin, in an undertone, " The Lord hath delivered him into 
mine hands." 

That sagacious old gentleman stared at me as if I had lost 
my senses. But, in fact, the Bishop had justified the severest 
retort I could devise, and I made up my mind to let him have 
it. I was careful, however, not to rise to reply, until the meet- 
ing called for me — ^then I let myself go. 

In justice to the Bishop, I am bound to say he bore no 
malice, but was always courtesy itself when we occasionally met 
in after years. Hooker and I walked away from the meeting 
together, and I remember saying to him that this experience 
had changed my opinion as to the practical value of the art of 
public speaking, and that from that time forth I should carefully 
cultivate it, and try to leave off hating it. I did the former, 
but never quite succeeded in the latter effort. 

I did not mean to trouble you with such a long scrawl when 
I began about this piece of ancient history. — Ever yours very 
faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

In the evening there was a crowded conversazione in 
Dr. Daubeny's rooms, and here, continues the writer in 
Macmillan^s, " everyone was eager to congratulate the hero 
of the day. I remember that some naive person wished ' it 

i860 result of THE MEETING 


could come over again ' ; Mr. Huxley, with the look on his 
face of the victor who feels the cost of victory, put us aside 
saying, * Once in a lifetime is enough, if not too much.' " 

In a letter to me the same writer remarks — 

I gathered from Mr. Huxley's look when I spoke to him at 
Dr. Daubeny's that he was not quite satisfied to have been 
forced to take so personal a tone — it a little jarred upon his 
fine taste. But it was the Bishop who first struck the insolent 
note of personal attack. 

Again, with reference to the state of feeling at the 
meeting : — 

I never saw such a display of fierce party spirit, the looks 
of bitter hatred which the audience bestowed — (I mean the 
majority) on us who were on your father's side — as we passed 
through the crowd we felt that we were expected to say " how 
abominably the Bishop was treated "—or to be considered out- 
casts and detestable. 

It was very different, however, at Dr. Daubeny's, 
" where," says the writer of the account in Darwin's Life, 
" the almost sole topic was the battle of the * Origin,' and 
I was much struck with the fair and unprejudiced way in 
which the black coats and white cravats of Oxford discussed 
the question, and the frankness with which they offered 
their congratulations to the winners in the combat." 

The result of this encounter, though a check to the 
other side, cannot, of course, be represented as an imme- 
diate and complete triumph for evolutionary doctrine. This 
was precluded by the character and temper of the audience, 
most of whom were less capable of being convinced by the 
arguments than shocked by the boldness of the retort, al- 
though, being gentlefolk, as Professor Farrar remarks, they 
were disposed to admit on reflection that the Bishop had 
erred on the score of taste and good manners. Nevertheless, 
it was a noticeable feature of the occasion. Sir M. Foster 
tells me, that when Huxley .rose he was received coldly, 
just a cheer of encouragement from his friends, the audience 
as a whole not joining in it. But as he made his points 



the applause grew and widened, until, when he sat down, 
the cheering was not very much less than that given to the 
Bishop. To that extent he carried an unwilling audience 
with him by the force of his speech. The debate on the 
ape question, however, was continued elsewhere during the 
next two years, and the evidence was completed by the 
unanswerable demonstrations of Sir W. H. Flower at the 
Cambridge meeting of the Association in 1862. 

The importance of the Oxford meeting lay in the open 
resistance that was made to authority, at a moment when 
even a drawn battle was hardly less effectual than acknowl- 
edged victory. Instead of being crushed under ridicule, 
the new theories secured a hearing, all the wider, indeed, 
for the startling nature of their defence. 


In the autumn he set to work to make good his promise 
of demonstrating the existence in the simian brain of the 
structures alleged to be exclusively human. The result was 
seen in his papers "On the Zoological Relations of Man 
with the Lower Animals " {Nat. Hist. Rev., 1861, pp. 67-68) ; 
" On the Brain of Ateles Paniscus," which appeared in the 
Proceedings of the Zoological Society for 1861, and on " Nyc- 
tipithecus " in 1862, while similar work was undertaken by 
his friends Rolleston and Flower. But the brain was only 
one point among many, as, for example, the hand and the 
foot in man and the apes ; and he already had in mind the 
discussion of the whole question comprehensively. On 
January 6 he writes to Sir J. Hooker : — 

Some of these days I shall look up the ape question again 
and go over the rest of the organisation in the same way. But 
in order to get a thorough grip of the question I must examine 
into a good many points for myself. The results, when they 
do come out, will, I foresee, astonish the natives. 

Full of interest in this theme, he made it the subject of 
his popular lectures in the spring of 1861. 

Thus from February to May he lectured weekly to 
working men on " The Relation of Man to the rest of the 
Animal Kingdom," and on March 22 writes to his wife : — 

My working men stick by me wonderfully, the house being 
fuller than ever last night. By next Friday evening they will all 
be convinced that they are monkeys. . . . Said lecture, let me 
inform you, was very good. Lyell came and was rather aston- 
ished at the magnitude and attentiveness of the audience. 

These lectures to working men were published in the 
Natural History Review, as was a Friday evening discourse 



at the Royal Institution (February 8) on " The Nature of 
the Earliest Stages of Development of Animals." 

Meanwhile the publication of these researches led to 
another pitched battle, in which public interest was pro- 
foundly engaged. The controversy which raged had some 
resemblance to a duel over a point of honour and credit. 
Scientific technicalities became the catchwords of society, 
and the echoes of the great Hippocampus question linger in 
the delightful pages of the Water-Babies. Of this fight 
Huxley writes to Sir J. Hooker on April i8, 1861 : — 

A controversy between Owen and myself, which I can only 
call absurd (as there is no doubt whatever about the facts), has 
been going on in the Athenceum, and I wound it up in disgust 
last week. 

And again on April 27 : — 

Owen occupied an entirely untenable position — ^but I am 
nevertheless surprised he did not try " abusing plaintiff's at- 
torney." The fact is he made a prodigious blunder in com- 
mencing the attack, and now his only chance is to be silent and 
let people forget the exposure. I do not believe that in the 
whole history of science there is a case of any man of reputa- 
tion getting himself into such a contemptible position. He will 
be the laughing-stock of all the continental anatomists. 

Rolleston has a great deal of Oxford slough to shed, but on 
that very ground his testimony has been of most especial service. 
Fancy that man telling Maskelyne that RoUeston's observa- 
tions were entirely confirmatory of Owen. 

About the same time he writes to his wife : — 

April 16. — People are talking a good deal about the "Man and 
the Apes " question, and I hear that somebody, I suspect Monck- 
ton Milnes, has set afloat a poetical squib on the subject.* . . . 

♦ The squib in question, dated ** the Zoological Gardens," and 
signed *' Gorilla," appeared in Punch for May 15, 1861, under a picture 
of that animal, bearing the sign, *'Am la Man and a Brother?'* 

The concluding verses run as follows : 

Ji^yn HUXLEY repViti 
That C7«^^W he lies 

And garbles his LAtin quotarion ; 
That his facts are not new, 
His mistakes not a few, 

Detrimental to his reputation. 

** To twice slay the slain '* 

By dint of the Brain 
(Thus ^i/-rZ,^K concludes his review). 

Is but labour in vain. 

Unproductive of gain. 
And so I shall bid you '' Adieu ! " 



Some think my winding-up too strong, but I trust the day will 
never come when I shall abstain from expressing my contempt 
for those who prostitute Science to the Service of Error. At 
anyrate I am not old enough for that yet. Darwin came in 
just now. I get no scoldings for pitching into the common 
enemy now ! ! 

I would give you fifty guesses (he writes to Hooker on 
April 30), and you should not find out the author of the Punch 
poem. I saw it in MS. three weeks ago, and was told the author 
was a friend of mine. But I remained hopelessly in the dark 
till yesterday. What do you say to Sir Philip Egerton coming 
out in that line ? I am told he is the author, and the fact 
speaks volumes for Owen's perfect success in damning himself. 

In the midst of the fight came a surprising invitation. 
On April 10 he writes to his wife : — 

They have written to me from the Philosophical Institute 
of Edinburgh to ask me to give two lectures on the " Relation of 
Man to the Lower Animals " next session. I have replied that 
if they can give me January 3 and 7 for lecture days I will do it 
— if not, not. Fancy unco guid Edinburgh requiring illumina- 
tion on the subject ! They know my views, so if they do not 
like what I shall have to tell them, it is their own fault. 

These lectures were eventually delivered on January 4 
and 7, 1862, and were well reported in the Edinburgh pa- 
pers. The substance of them appears as Part 2 in Man*s 
Place in Nature, the first lecture describing the general 
nature of the process of development among vertebrate 
animals, and the modifications of the skeleton in the mam- 
malia ; the second dealing with the crucial points of com- 
parison between the higher apes and man, viz. the hand, 
foot, and brain. He showed that the differences between 
man and the higher apes were no greater than those be- 
tween the higher and lower apes. If the Darwinian hy- 
pothesis explained the common ancestry of the latter, the 
anatomist would have no difficulty with the origin of man, 
so far as regards the gap between him and the higher apes. 

Yet, though convinced that " that hypothesis is as near 
an approximation to the truth as, for example, the Coper- 
nican hypothesis was to the true theory of the planetary 


motions," he steadfastly refused to be an advocate of the 
theory, " if by an advocate is meant one whose business it 
is to smooth over real difficulties, and to persuade when he 
cannot convince." 

In common fairness he warned his audience of the one 
missing link in the chain of evidence — ^the fact that selective 
breeding has not yet produced species sterile to one another. 
But it is to be adopted as a working hypothesis like other 
scientific generalisations, " subject to the production of 
proof that physiological species may be produced by se- 
lective breeding ; just as a physical philosopher may accept 
the undulatory theory of light, subject to the proof of the 
existence of the hypothetical ether ; or as the chemist adopts 
the atomic theory, subject to the proof of the existence of 
atoms; and for exactly the same reasons, namely, that it 
has an immense amount of prima facie probability; that it 
is the only means at present within reach of reducing the 
chaos of observed facts to order; and lastly, that it is the 
most powerful instrument of investigation which has been 
presented to naturalists since the invention of the natural 
system of classification, and the commencement of the sys- 
tematic study of embryology." 

As for the repugnance of most men to admitting kin- 
ship with the apes, " thoughtful men," he says, " once es- 
caped from the blinding influences of traditional prejudices, 
will find in the lowly stock whence man has sprung the 
best evidence of the splendour of his capacities; and will 
discern, in his long progress through the past, a reasonable 
ground of faith in his attainment of a nobler future." 

A simile, with which he enforced this elevating point of 
view, which has since eased the passage of many minds to 
the acceptance of evolution, seems to have been much ap- 
preciated by his audience. It was a comparison of man to 
the Alps, which turn out to be " of one substance with the 
dullest clay, but raised by inward forces to that place of 
proud and seemingly inaccessible glory." 

The lectures were met at first with astonishing quiet, 
but it was not long before the stones began to fly. The 
Witness of January 1 1 lashed itself into a fury over the fact 


that the audience applauded this " anti-scriptural and most 
debasing theory . . . standing in blasphemous contradic- 
tion to biblical narrative and doctrine," instead of express- 
ing their resentment at this " foul outrage committed upon 
them individually, and upon the whole species as ' made in 
the likeness of God/ " by deserting the hall in a body, or 
using some more emphatic form of protest against the cor- 
ruption of youth by " the vilest and beastliest paradox ever 
vented in ancient or modem times amongst Pagans or 
Christians." In his finest vein of sarcasm, the writer ex- 
presses his surprise that the meeting did not instantly resolve 
itself into a " Gorilla Enlancipation Society," or propose to 
hear a lecture from an apostle of Mormonism ; " even this 
would be a less offensive, mischievous, and inexcusable ex- 
hibition than was made in the recent two lectures by Pro- 
fessor Huxley," etc. 

Jermyn Street, January 13, 1862. 

My dear Darwin — In the first place a new year's greeting 
to you and yours. In the next, I enclose this slip (please return 
it when you have read it) to show you what I have been doing 
in the north. 

Everybody prophesied I should be stoned and cast out of the 
city gate, but, on the contrary, I met with unmitigated ap- 
plause ! ! Three cheers for the progress of liberal opinion ! ! 

The report is as good as any, but they have not put quite 
rightly what I said about your views, respecting which I took 
my old line about the infertility difficulty. 

Furthermore, they have not reported my statement that 
whether you were right or wrong, some form of the progressive 
development theory is certainly true. Nor have they reported 
here my distinct statement that I believe man and the apes to 
have come from one stock. 

Having got thus far, I find the lecture better reported in 
the C our ant, so I send you that instead. 

I mean to publish the lecture in full by and by (about the 
time the orchids come out). — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

I deserved the greatest credit for not having made an on- 
slaught on Brewster for his foolish impertinence about your 
views in Good Words, but declined to stir nationality, which 
you know (in him) is rather more than his Bible. 


Jkrmyn Street, January i6t 1862. 

My dear Hooker — I wonder if we are ever to meet again in 
this world ! At anyrate I send to the remote province of Kew, 
Greeting, and my best wishes for the new year to you and yours. 
I also inclose a slip from an Edinburgh paper containing a 
report of my lecture on the " Relation of Man," etc. As you 
will see, I went in for the entire animal more strongly, in fact, 
than they have reported me. I told them in so many words 
that I entertained no doubt of the origin of man from the same 
stock as the apes. 

And to my great delight, in saintly Edinburgh itself the an- 
nouncement met with nothing but applause. For myself I can't 
say that the praise or blame of my audience was much matter, 
but it is a g^and indication of the general disintegration of old 
prejudices which is going on. 

I shall see if I cannot make something more of the lectures 
by delivering them again in London, and then I shall publish 

The report does not put nearly strong enough what I said in 
favour of Darwin's views. I affirmed it to be the only scientific 
hypothesis of the origin of species in existence, and expressed 
my belief that the one gap in the evidence would be filled up, as 
I always do. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Jermyn Street, January 20, 1862. 

My dear Darwin — The inclosed article, which has been 
followed up by another more violent, more scurrilously personal, 
and more foolish, will prove to you that my labour has not been 
in vain, and that your views and mine are likely to be better 
ventilated in Scotland than they have been. 

I was quite uneasy at getting no attack from the Witness, 
thinking I must have overestimated the impression I had made, 
and the favourableness of the reception of what I said. But the 
raving of the Witness is clear testimony that my notion was 

I shall send a short reply to the Scotsman for the purpose of 
further advertising the question. 

With regard to what are especially your doctrines, I spoke 
much more favourably than I am reported to have done. I 
expressed no doubt as to their ultimate establishment, but as I 
particularly wished not to be misrepresented as an advocate 
trying to soften or explain away real difficulties, I did not in 
speaking enter into the details of what is to be said in diminish- 


ing the weight of the hybrid difficulty. All this will be put fulLy 
when I print the Lecture. 

The arguments put in your letter are those which I have 
urged to other people — of the opposite side — over and over 
again. I have told my students that I entertain no doubt that 
twenty years* experiments on pigeons conducted by a skilled 
physiologist, instead of by a mere breeder, would give us 
physiological species sterile inter se, from a common stock (and 
in this, if I mistake not, I go further than you do yourself), 
and I have told them that when these experiments have been 
performed I shall consider your views to have a complete 
physical basis, and to stand on as firm ground as any physio- 
logical theory whatever. 

It was impossible for me, in the time I had, to lay all this 
down to my Edinburgh audience, and in default of full ex- 
planation it was far better to seem to do scanty justice to you. I 
am constitutionally slow of adopting any theory that I must 
needs stick by when I have once gone in for it; but for these 
two years I have been gravitating towards your doctrines, and 
since the publication of your primula paper with accelerated 
velocity. By about this time next year I expect to have shot 
past you, and to find you pitching into me for being more Dar- 
winian than yourself. However, you have set me going, and 
must just take the consequences, for I warn you I will stop at 
no point so long as clear reasoning will carry me further. 

My wife and I were very grieved to hear you had had such 
a sick house, but I hope the change in the weather has done you 
all good. Anything is better than the damp warmth we had. 

I will take great care of the three " Barriers." * I wanted to 
cut it up in the Saturday, but how I am to fulfil my benevolent 
intentions — with five lectures a week — a lecture at the Royal 
Institution and heaps of other things on my hands, I don't know. 
— Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

I am very glad to hear about Brown Sequard ; he is a thor- 
oughly good man, and told me it was worth while to come all 
the way to Oxford to hear the Bishop pummelled. 

In the above-mentioned letter to the Scotsman of Janu- 
ary 24 he expresses his unfeigned satisfaction at the fulfil- 

* A pamphlet called **The Three Barriers, by G. R., being notes 
on Mr. Darwin's Origin of Species, 1861, 8vo.'* Habitat, structure, and 
procreative power are given as these three barriers to Darwinism, 
against which natural theology takes its stand on Final Causes. 


ment of the three objects of his address, namely, to state 
fully and fairly his conclusions, to avoid giving unnecessary 
offence, and thirdly, " while feeling assured of the just and 
reasonable dealing of the respectable part of the Scottish 
press, I naturally hoped for noisy injustice and unreason 
from the rest, seeing, as I did, the best security for the dis- 
semination of my views through regions which they might 
not otherwise reach, in the certainty of a violent attack by 
(the IVitnessy 

The applause of the audience, he says, afforded him 
genuine satisfaction, " because it bids me continue in the 
faith on which I acted, that a man who speaks out honestly 
and fearlessly that which he knows, and that which he be- 
lieves, will always enlist the good-will and the respect, how- 
ever much he may fail in winning the assent, of his fel- 

About this time a new field of interest was opened out 
to him, closely connected with, indeed, and completing, the 
ape question. Sir Charles Lyell was engaged in writing 
his Antiquity of Matty and asked Huxley to supply him with 
various anatomical data touching the ape question, and 
later to draw him a diagram illustrating the peculiarities 
of the newly discovered Neanderthal skull as compared with 
other skulls. He points out in his letters to Lyell that the 
range of cranial capacity between the highest and the low- 
est German — " one of the mediatised princes, I suppose " * 
— or the Malayan or Peruvian, is almost loo per cent; in 
absolute amount twice as much as the difference between 
that of the largest simian and the smallest human capacity, 
so that in seeking an ordinal difference between man and 
the apes, " it would certainly be well to let go the head, 
though I am afraid it does not mend matters much to lay 
hold of the foot." 

And on January 25, 1862 : — 

I have been skull-measuring all day at the College of Sur- 
geons. The Neanderthal skull may be described as a slightly 

♦ The minor princes of Germany, whose territories were annexed 
to larger states, and who thus exchanged a direct for a mediate share 
in the imperial government. 



exaggerated modification of one of the two types (and the 
lower) of Australian skulls. 

After the fashion of accounting for the elephant of old, I 
suppose it will be said that it was imported. But luckily the 
differences, though only of degree, are rather too marked for 
this hypothesis. 

I only wish I had a clear six months to work at the subject. 
Little did I dream what the undertaking to arrange your three 
woodcuts would lead to. It will come in the long-run, I believe, 
to a new ethnological method, new modes of measurement, a 
new datum line, and new methods of registration. 

If one had but two heads and neither required sleep ! 

One immediate result of his investigations, which ap- 
peared in a lecture at the Royal Institution (February 7, 
1862), " On the Fossil Remains of Man," was incorpo- 
rated in Man's Place in Nature. But a more important con- 
sequence of this impulse was that he went seriously into 
the study of Ethnology. Of his work in this branch of 
natural science, Professor Virchow, speaking at the dinner 
given him by the English medical profession on October 
5, 1898, declared that in the eyes of German savants it 
alone would suffice to secure immortal reverence for his 

The concluding stage in the long controversy raised first 
at Oxford, was the British Association meeting at Cam- 
bridge in 1862. It was here that Professor (afterwards Sir 
W. H.) Flower made his public demonstration of the exist- 
ence in apes of the cerebral characters said to be peculiar 
to man. 

From the ist to the 9th of October Huxley stayed at 
Cambridge as the guest of Professor Fawcett at Trinity 
Hall, running over to Felixstow on the 5th to see his wife, 
whose health did not allow her to accompany him. 

As President of Section D he had a good deal to do, 
and he describes the course of events in a letter to Dar- 
win: — 

26 Abbey Place, Oct. 9, 1862. 

My dear Darwin — It is a source of sincere pleasure to me 
to learn that anything I can say or do is a pleasure to you, and 
I was therefore very glad to get your letter at that whirligig of 

214 ^^^^ ^^ PROFESSOR HUXLEY chap, xv 

an association meeting the other day. We all missed you, but 
I think it was as well you did not come, for though I am pretty 
tough, as you know, I found the pace rather killing. Nothing 
could exceed the hospitality and kindness of the University 
people — ^and that, together with a great deal of speaking on the 
top of a very bad cold, which I contrived to catch just before 
going down, has somewhat used me up. 

Owen came down with the obvious intention of attacking me 
on all points. Each of his papers was an attack, and he went so 
far as to offer stupid and unnecessary opposition to proposals of 
mine in my own committee. However, he got himself sold at all 
points. . . . The Polypterus paper and the Aye-Aye paper fell 
flat. The latter was meant to raise a discussion on your views, 
but it was all a stale hash, and I only made some half sarcastic 
remarks which stopped any further attempts at discussion. . . . 

I took my book to Scotland but did nothing. I shall ask 
leave to send you a bit or two as I get on. — Ever yours, 

T. H. Huxley. 

A " Society for the propagation of common honesty in all 
parts of the world " was established at Cambridge. I want you 
to belong to it, but I will say more about it by and by. 

This admirable society, which was also to ** search for 
scientific truth, especially in biology," seems to have been 
but short lived. At all events, I can find only two refer- 
ences to subsequent meetings, on October 7 and December 
19 in this year. 

A few days later a final blow was struck in the battle 
over the ape question. He writes on October 15 how he 
has written a letter to the Medical Times — his last word 
on the subject, summing up in most emphatic terms : — 

I have written the letter with the greatest care, and there is 
nothing coarse or violent in it. But it shall put an end to all the 
humbug that has been going on. . . . Rolleston will come out 
with his letter in the same number, and the smash will be awful, 
but most thoroughly merited. 

These several pieces of work, struck out at different 
times in response to various impulses, were now combined 
and re-shaped into Man's Place in Nature, the first book 
which was published by him. Thus he writes to Sir Charles 
Lyell on May 5, 1862 : — 


Of course I shall be delighted to discuss anything with 
you,* and the more so as I mean to put the whole queation 
before the world in another shape in my little book, whose title 
is announced as Evidences as to Man's Place in Nature. I have 
written the first two essays, the second containing the sub- 
stance of my Edinburgh Lecture. I recollect you once asked me 
for something to quote on the Man question, so if you want, 
anything in that way the MS. is at your service. 

Lyell looked over the proofs, and the following letters 
are in reply to his criticisms: — 

Ardrishaig, Loch Fyne, Aug. 17, 1863. 

My dear Sir Charles — I take advantage of my first quiet 
day to reply to your letter of the 9th; and in the first place let 
me thank you very much for your critical remarks, as I shall 
find them of great service. 

With regard to such matters as verbal mistakes, you must 
recollect that the greater part of the proof was wholly uncor- 
rected. But the reader might certainly do his work better. I 
do not think you will find room to complain of any want of dis- 
tinctness in my definition of Owen's position touching the Hip- 
pocampus question. I mean to give the whole history of the 
business in a note, so that the paraphrase of Sir Ph. Egerton's 
line " To which Huxley replies that Owen he lies," shall be un- 

I will take care about the Cheiroptera, and I will look at 
Lamarck again. But I doubt if I shall improve my estimate of 
the latter. The notion of common descent was not his — still 
less that of modification by variation — and he was as far as De 
Maillet from seeing his way to any vera causa by which varieties 
might be intensified into species. 

If Darwin is right about natural selection — ^the discovery of 
this vera causa sets him to my mind in a different region alto- 
gether from all his predecessors — and I should no more call his 
doctrine a modification of Lamarck's than I should call the 
Newtonian theory of the celestial motions a modification of the 
Ptolemaic system. Ptolemy imagined a mode of explaining 
those motions. Newton proved their necessity from the laws 
and a force demonstrably in operation. If he is only right Dar- 

* Referring to the address on ** Geological Contemporaneity** 
delivered in 1862 at the Geological Society, see p. 220. 
f See p. 206. 


win will, I think, take his place with such men as Harvey, and 
even if he is wrong his sobriety and accuracy of thought will 
put him on a far different level from Lamarck. I want to make 
this clear to people. 

I am disposed to agree with you about the "emasculate" 
and " uncircumcised " — partly for your reasons, partly because 
I believe it is an excellent rule always to erase anything that 
strikes one as particularly smart when writing it. But it is a 
great piece of self-denial to abstain from expressing my peculiar 
antipathy to the people indicated, and I hope I shall be rewarded 
for the virtue. 

As to the secondary causes I only wished to guard myself 
from being understood to imply that I had any comprehension 
of the meaning of the term. If my phrase looks naughty I will 
alter it. What I want is to be read, and therefore to give no 
unnecessary handle to the enemy. There will be row enough 
whatever I do. 

Our Commission here * implicates us in an inquiry of some 
difficulty, and which involves the interests of a great many poor 
people. I am afraid it will not leave me very much leisure. But 
we are in the midst of a charming country, and the work is not 
1 unpleasant or uninteresting. If the sun would only shine more 
than once a week it would be perfect. — With kind remem- 
.branoes to Lady Lyell, believe me, faithfully yours, 

T. H. Huxley. 

We shall be here for the next ten days at least. But my 
\wife will always know my whereabouts. 

Jermyn Street, March 23, 1863. 
'My dear Sir Charles — I suspect that the passage to which 
you refer must have been taken from my unrevised proofs, for it 
corresponds very nearly with what is written at p. 97 of my 

Flower has recently discovered that the Siamang*s brain 

' affords an even more curious exception to the general rule than 

that 6i Mycetes, as the cerebral hemispheres leave part not only 

' of the sides but of the hinder end of the cerebellum uncovered. 

As it is one of the Anthropoid apes and yet differs in this 

respect far more widely from the gorilla than the gorilla differs 

from man, it offers a charming example of the value of cerebral 


♦ The Fishery Commission. 


Flower publishes a paper on the subject in the forthcoming 
number of the iV^. H, Review. 

Might it not be well to allude to the fact that the existence 
of the posterior lobe, posterior comu, and hippocampus in the 
Orang has been publicly demonstrated to an audience of experts 
at the College of Surgeons? — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The success of Man^s Place was immediate, despite such 
criticisms as that of the AthetuBum, that " Lyell's object is to 
make man old, Huxley's to degrade him." By the middle 
of February it reached its second thousand; in July it is 
heard of as republished in America; at the same time L. 
Buchner writes that he wished to translate it into German, 
but finds himself forestalled by Victor Carus. From another 
aspect. Lord Enniskillen, thanking him for the book, says 
(March 3), " I believe you are already excommunicated by 
book, bell, and candle," while in an undated note, Bollaert 
writes, " The Bishop of Oxford the other day spoke about 
' the church having been in danger of late, by such books 
as Colenso's, but that it (the church) was now restored.* 
And this at a time, he might have added, when the works 
of Darwin, Lyell, and Huxley are torn from the hands of 
Mudie's shopmen, as if they were novels — (see Daily Tele- 
graph, April 10)." 

At the same time, the impression left by his work upon 
the minds of the leading men of science may be judged 
from a few words of Sir Charles Lyell, who writes to a 
friend on March 15, 1863 {Life and Letters, ii. 366) : — 

Huxley's second thousand is going off well. If he had 
leisure like you and me, and the vigour and logic of the lectures, 
and his address to the Geological Society, and half a dozen other 
recent works (letters to the Times on Darwin, etc.), had been 
all in one book, what a position he would occupy ! I entreated 
him not to undertake the Natural History Review before it 
began. The responsibility all falls on the man of chief energy 
and talent; it is a quarterly mischief, and will end in knocking 
him up. 

A similar estimate appears from an earlier letter of March 
II, 1859 (^*/^ ^w^ Letters, ii. 321), when he quotes Huxley's 


Opinion of Mansel's Bampton Lectures on the Litptits of 
Religums Thought: — 

A friend of mine, Huxley, who will soon take rank as one 
of the first naturalists we have ever produced, begged me to 
read these sermons as first ratCj "although, regarding the au- 
thor as a churchman, you will probably compare him, as I did, 
to the drunken fellow in Hogarth's contested election, who is 
sawing through the signpost at the other party's public-house, 
forgetting he is sitting at the other end of it. But read them 
as a piece of clear and unanswerable reasoning." 

In the 1894 preface to the re-issue of Man*s Place in 
the Collected Essays, Huxley speaks as follows of the warn- 
ings he received against publishing on so dangerous a topic, 
of the storm which broke upon his head, and the small re- 
sult which, in the long run, it produced * : 

Magna est Veritas et prcevalehiti Truth is great, certainly, 
but considering her greatness, it is curious what a long time she 
is apt to take about prevailing. When, towards the end of 1862, 
I had finished writing Man's Place in Nature, I could say with 
a good conscience that my conclusions " had not been formed 
hastily or enunciated crudely." I thought I had earned the right 
to publish them, and even fancied I might be thanked rather 
than reproved for doing so. However, in my anxiety to publish 
nothing erroneous, I asked a highly competent anatomist and 
very good friend of mine to look through my proofs, and, if he 
could, point out any errors of fact. I was well pleased when he 
returned them without criticism on that score; but my satis- 
faction was speedily dashed by the very earnest warning as to 
the consequences of publication, which my friend's interest in 
my welfare led him to give. But, as I have confessed elsewhere, 
when I was a young man, there was just a little — a mere soupgon 
— in my composition of that tenacity of purpose which has 
another name ; and I felt sure that all the evil things prophesied 
would not be so painful to me as the giving up that which I 
had resolved to do, upon grounds which I conceived to be right.* 

♦ In September 1887 he wrote to Mr. Edward Clodd — **A11 the 
propositions laid down in the wicked book, which was so well anath- 
ematised a quarter of a century ago, are now taught in the text-books. 
What a droll world it is!'* 

t As to this advice not to publish MarCs Place for fear of misrepre- 
sentation on the score of morals, he said, in criticising an attack of 


So the book came out; and I must do my friend the justice to 
say that his forecast was completely justified. The Boreas of 
criticism blew his hardest blasts of misrepresentation and ridi- 
cule for some years, and I was even as one of the wicked. In- 
deed, it surprises me at times to think how anyone who had 
sunk so low could since have emerged into, at any rate, relative 
respectability. Personally, like the non-corvine personages in 
the Ingoldsby legend, I did not feel "one penny the worse." 
Translated into several languages, the book reached a wider 
public than I had ever hoped for ; being largely helped, I imagine, 
by the Emulphine advertisements to which I referred. It has 
had the honour of being freely utilised without acknowledgment 
by writers of repute; and finally it achieved the fate, which is 
the euthanasia of a scientific work, of being inclosed among the 
rubble of the foundations of later knowledge, and forgotten. 

To my observation, human nature has not sensibly changed 
during the last thirty years. I doubt not that there are truths as 
plainly obvious and as generally denied as those contained in 
Man's Place in Nature, now awaiting enunciation. If there is 
a young man of the present generation who has taken as much 
trouble as I did to assure himself that they are truths, let him 
come out with them, without troubling his head about the bark- 
ing of the dogs of St. Ernulphus. Veritas prcevalehit — some 
day; and even if she does not prevail in his time, he himself 
will be all the better and wiser for having tried to help her. And 
let him recollect that such great reward is full payment for all 
his labour and pains. 

The following letter refers to the newly published Man's 
Place in Nature, Miss H. Darwin had suggested a couple 
of corrections : — 

Jermyn Street, Feb. 25, 1863. 

My dear Darwin — Please to say to Miss Henrietta Minos 
Rhadamanthus Darwin that I plead guilty to the justice of both 
criticisms, and throw myself on the mercy of the court. 

As extenuating circumstances with respect to indictment 
No. I, see prefatory notice. Extenuating circumstance No. 2 

this sort made upon Darwin in the Quarterly for July 1876 : — ** It 
seemed to me, however, that a man of science has no raison <Pitre at 
all, unless he is willing to face much greater risks than these for the 
sake of that which he helieves to he true ; and further, that to a man 
of science such risks do not count for much— that they are by no 
means so serious as they are to a man of letters, for example.'* 


— that I picked up " Atavism " in Pritchard years ago, and as it 
is a much more convenient word than " Hereditary transmission 
of variations," it slipped into equivalence in my mind, and I 
forgot all about the original limitation. 

But if these excuses should in your judgment tend to aggra- 
vate my offences, suppress 'em like a friend. One may always 
hope more from a lady's tender-heartedness than from her sense 
of justice. 

Publisher has just sent to say that I must g^ve him any cor- 
rections for second thousand of my booklet immediately. 

Why did not Miss Etty send any critical remarks on that 
subject by the same post? I should be most immensely obliged 
for them. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

During this period of special work at the anthropological 
side of the Evolution theory, Huxley made two important 
contributions to the general question. 

As secretary of the Geological Society, the duty of de- 
livering the anniversary address in 1862 fell to him in the 
absence of the president, Leonard Homer, who had been 
driven by ill-health to winter in Italy. 

The object at which he aimed appears from the post- 
script of a brief note of Feb. 19, 1862, to Hooker : — 

I am writing the body of the address, and I am going to 
criticise Palaeontological doctrines in general in a way that will 
flutter their nerves considerable. 

Darwin is met everywhere with — Oh this is opposed to 
palaeontology, or that is opposed to palaeontology — and I mean to 
turn round and ask, " Now, Messieurs les Palaeontologues, what 
the devil do you really know ? " 

I have not changed sex, although the postscript is longer 
than the letter. 

The delivery of the address * itself on February 21 is 
thus described by Sir Charles Lyell f (Life and Letters, ii. 


Huxley delivered a brilliant crftical discourse on what * 
palaeontology has and has not done, and proved the value of 

♦ On ** Geological Contemporaneity" (Co//, Ess. viii. 292). 

t To a note of whose, proposing a talk over the subject, Huxley 
replies on May 5, '* I am very glad you find something to think about 
in my address. That is the best of all praise." 


negative evidence, how much the progressive development sys- 
tem has been pushed too far, how little can be said in favour of 
Owen's more generalised types when we go back to the verte- 
brata and invertebrata of remote ages, the persistency of many 
forms high and low throughout time, how little we know of the 
beginning of life upon the earth, how often events called con- 
temporaneous in Geology are applied to things which, instead 
of coinciding in time, may have happened ten millions of years 
apart, etc. ; and a masterly sketch comparing the past and present 
in almost every class in zoology, and sometimes of botany cited 
from Hooker, which he said he had done because it was useful 
to look into the cellars and see how much gold there was there, 
and whether the quantity of bullion justified such an enormous 
circulation of paper. I never remember an address listened to 
with such applause, though there were many private protests 
against some of his bold opinions. 

The dinner at Willis's was well attended; I should think 
eighty or more present . . . and late in the evening Huxley 
made them merry by a sort of mock-modest speech. 

Jermyn Street, May 6, 1862. 

My dear Darwin — I was very glad to get your note about 
my address. I profess to be a great stoic, you know, but there 
are some people from whom I am glad to get a pat on the back. 
Still I am not quite content with that, and I want to know what 
you think of the argument — ^whether you agree with what I say 
about contemporaneity or not, and whether you are prepared to 
admit — as I think your views compel you to do — that the whole 
Geological Record is only the skimmings of the pot of life. 

Furthermore, I want you to chuckle with me over the notion 
I find a great many people entertain — ^that the address is dead 
against your views. The fact being, as they will by and by 
wake up [to] see that yours is the only hypothesis which is 
not negatived by the facts, — one of its great merits being that 
it allows not only of indefinite standing still, but of indefinite 

I am going to try to work the whole argument into an in- 
telligible form for the general public as a chapter of my forth- 
coming "Evidence"* (one half of which I am happy to say 
is now written), so I shall be very glad of any criticisms or 

* EvicUnce as to Man^s Place in Nature, 


Since I saw you — indeed, from the following Tuesday on- 
wards — I have amused myself by spending ten days or so in bed. 
I had an unaccountable prostration of strength which they called 
influenza, but which, I believe, was nothing but some obstruction 
in the liver. 

Of course I can't persuade people of this, and they will have 
it that it is overwork. I have come to the conviction, however, 
that steady work hurts nobody, the real destroyer of hardwork- 
ing men being not their work, but dinners, late hours, and the 
universal humbug and excitement of society. 

I mean to get out of all that and keep out of it. — Ever yours 
faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

The other contribution to the general question was his 
Working Men's Lectures for 1862. As he writes to Dar- 
win on October 10—" I can't find anything to talk to the 
working men about this year but your book. I mean to 
give them a commentary d la Coke upon Lyttleton." 

The lectures to working men here referred to, six in 
number, were duly delivered once a week from November 
10 onwards, and published in the form of as many little 
pamphlets. Appearing under the general title, " On our 
Knowledge of the Causes of the Phenomena of Organic 
Nature," they wound up with a critical examination of the 
portion of Mr. Darwin's work On the Origin of Species, in 
relation to the complete theory of the causes of organic 

Jkrmyn Street, Dfc. 2, 1862. 

My dear Darwin — I send you by this post three of my 
working men's lectures now in course of delivery. As you will 
see by the prefatory notice, I was asked to allow them to be 
taken down in shordiand for the use of the audience, but I have 
no interest in them, and do not desire or intend that they 
should be widely circulated. 

Some time hence, may be, I may revise and illustrate them, 
and make them into a book as a sort of popular exposition of 
your views, or at a^y rate of my version of your views. 

There really is nothing new in them nor anything worth 
your attention, but if in glancing over them at any time you 
should see anything to object to, I should like to know. 

I am very hard worked just now — six lectures a week, and 
no end of other things — but as vigorous as a three-year old. 


Somebody told me you had been ill, but I hope it was fiction, 
and that you and Mrs. Darwin and all your belongings are 
flourishing.— Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

In reply, Darwin writes on December 10: — 

I agree entirely with all your reservations about accepting 
the doctrine, and you might have gone further with perfect 
safety and truth. . . . 

Touching the Natural History Review, " Do inaugurate a 
great improvement, and have pages cut, like the Yankees do; 
I will heap blessings on your head." 

And again, December 18: — 

I have read No. IV. and V. They are simply perfect. They 
ought to be largely advertised ; but it is very good in me to say 
so, for I threw down No. IV. with this reflection, " What is the 
good of my writing a thundering big book, when everything is 
in this green little book so despicable for its size ? " In the name 
of all that is good and bad I may as well shut up shop altogether. 

These lectures met with an annoying amount of suc- 
cess. They were not cast into permanent form, for he 
grudged the time necessary to prepare them for the press. 
However, he gave a Mr. Hardwicke permission to take them 
down in shorthand as delivered for the use of the audience. 
But no sooner were they printed, than they had a large sale. 
Writing to Sir J. D. Hooker early in the following month, 
he says : — 

I fully meant to have sent you all the successive lectures as 
they came out, and I forward a set with all manner of apologies 
for my delinquency. I am such a 'umble-minded party that I 
never imagined the lectures as delivered would be worth bring- 
ing out at all, and I knew I had no time to work them out. Now, 
I lament I did not publish them myself and turn an honest penny 
by them as I suspect Hardwicke is doing. He is advertising 
them everywhere, confound him. 

I wish when you have read them you would tell me whether 
you think it would be worth while for me to re-edit, enlarge, and 
illustrate them by and by. 

And on January 28 Sir C. Lyell writes to him : — 



I do grudge Hardwicke very much having not only the pub- 
lisher's but the author's profits. It so often happens that popular 
lectures designed for a class and inspired by an attentive audi- 
ence's sympathy are better than any writing in the closet for the 
purpose of educating the many as readers, and of remunerating 
the publisher and author. I would lose no time in considering 
well what steps to take to rescue the copyright of the third 

As for the value of the work thus done in support of 
Darwin's theory, it is worth while quoting the words of Lord 
Kelvin, when, as President of the Royal Society in 1894, it 
fell to him to award Huxley the Darwin Medal : — 

To the world at large, perhaps, Mr. Huxley's share in mould- 
ing the thesis of Natural Selection is less well known than is 
his bold unwearied exposition and defence of it after it had 
been made public. And, indeed, a speculative trifler, revelling 
in the problems of the "might have been," would find a con- 
genial theme in the inquiry how soon what we now call " Dar- 
winism " would have met with the acceptance with which it has 
met, and gained the power which it has gained, had it not been 
for the brilliant advocacy with which in its early days it was 
expounded to all classes of men. 

That advocacy had one striking mark: while it made or 
strove to make clear how deep the new view went down, and 
how far it reach^, it never shrank from trying to make equally 
clear the limit beyond which it could not go. 


The letters given in the following chapters illustrate the 
occupations and interests of the years 1860 to 1863, apart 
from the struggle over the species question. 

One of the most important and most engrossing was the 
launching of a scientific quarterly to do more systematically 
and thoroughly what had been done since 1858 in the fort- 
nightly scientific column of the Saturday Review. Its gene- 
sis is explained in the following letter: — 

/ufy 17, i860. 

My dear Hooker — Some time ago Dr. Wright of Dublin 
talked to me about the Natural History Review, which I believe 
to a great extent belongs to him, and wanted me to join in the 
editorship, provided certain alterations were made. I promised 
to consider the matter, and yesterday he and Greene dined with 
me, and I learned that Haughton and Galbraith were out of the 
review — ^that Harvey was likely to go — ^that a new series was to 
beg^n in January, with Williams and Norgate for publishers 
over here — that it was to become an English and not a Hi- 
bernian concern in fact — and finally, that if I chose to join as 
one of the editors, the effectual control would be pretty much 
in my own hands. Now, considering the state of the times, and 
the low condition of natural history journalisation (always ex- 
cepting quarterly Mic, Jour,) in this country this seems to me 
to be a fine opening for a plastically minded young man, and I 
am decidedly inclined to close with the offer, though I shall get 
nothing but extra work by it. 

To limit the amount of this extra work, however, I must get 
co-editors, and I have written to Lubbock and to Rolleston (also 
plastically minded young men) to see if they will join. Now up 
to this point you have been in a horrid state of disgust, because 



you thought I was going to ask you next But I am not, for 
rejoiced as I should be to have you, I know you have heaps of 
better work to do, and hate journalism. 

But can you tell me of any plastic young botanist who would 
come in all for glory and no pay, though I think pay may be got 
if the concern is properly worked. How about Oliver ? 

And though you can't and won't be an editor yourself, won't 
you help us and pat us on the back ? 

The tone of the Review will be mildly cpiscopophagous, and 
you and Darwin and Lyell will have a fine opportunity if you 
wish it of slaying your adversaries. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Several of his elder friends tried to dissuade him from 
an undertaking which would inevitably distract him from 
his proper work. Sir C. Lyell prophesied (see p. 217) that 
all the work would drift to the most energetic member 
of the staff, and Huxley writes to Hooker, August 2, 

Darwin wrote me a very kind expostulation about it, telling 
me I ought not to waste myself on other than original work. In 
reply, however, I assured him that I must waste myself willy- 
nilly, and that the Review was only a save-all. 

The more I think of it the more it seems to me it ought to 
answer if properly conducted, and it ought to be of great use. 

The first number appeared in January 1861. Writing 
on the 6th, Huxley says : — 

It is pleasant to get such expressions of opinion as I have 
had from Lyell and Darwin about the Review. They make me 
quite hopeful about its prosperity, as I am sure we shall be able 
to do better than our first number. 

It was not long, however, before Lyell's prophecy began 
to come true. In June Huxley writes : — 

It is no use letting other people look after the journal. I find 
unless I revise every page of it, it goes wrong. 

But in July 1863 he definitely ceased to contribute : — 

I did not foresee all this crush of work, (he writes) when 
the Review was first started, or I should not have pledged myself 
to any share in supplying it. (Moreover, with the appointment 



of paid editors that .year, it seemed to him) that the working 
editors with the credit and the pay must take the responsibility 
of all the commissariat of the Review upon their shoulders. 

Two years later, in 1865, the Review came to an end. 
As Mr. Murray, the publisher, remarked, quarterlies did not 
pay; and this quarterly became still more financially un- 
sound after the over-worked volunteers, who both edited 
and contributed, gave place to paid editors. 

But Huxley was not satisfied with one defeat. The 
quarterly scheme had failed; he now tried if he could not 
serve science better by returning to a more frequent and 
more popular form of periodical. From 1863 to 1866 he 
was concerned with the Reader, a weekly issue ; * but this 
also was too heavy a burden to be borne in addition to his 
other work. However, the labour expended in these ven- 
tures was not wholly thrown away. The experience thus 
gained at last enabled the present Sir Norman Lockyer, who 
acted as science editor for the Reader, to realise what had 
so long been aimed at by the establishment of Nature in 

Apart from his contributions to the species question and 
the foundation of a scientific review, Huxley published in 
i860 only two special monographs (" On Jacare and Cai- 
man," and " On the Mouth and Pharynx of the Scorpion," 
already mentioned as read in the previous year), but he read 
" Further Observations on Pyrosoma " at the Linnean So- 
ciety, and was busy with paleontological work, the results 
of which appeared in three papers the following year, the 
most important of which was the Memoir called a " Pre- 
liminary Essay on the Arrangement of the Devonian 
Fishes," in the report of the Geological Survey, " which," 
says Sir M. Foster, " though entitled a Preliminary Essay, 
threw an entirely new light on the affinities of these crea- 
tures, and, with the continuation published later, in 1866, 
still remains a standard work." 

The question of the admission of ladies to the learned 

* The committee also included Professor Cairns, F. Galton, W. F. 
Pollock, and J. Tyndall. 


societies was already being mooted, and a letter to Sir C. 
Lyell gives his ideas thus early not only on this point, but 
on the general question of women's education. 

March 17, i860. 

My dear Sir Charles — ^To use the only forcible expression, 
I "twig" your meaning perfectly, but I venture to think the 
parable does not apply. For the Geological Society is not, to my 
mind, a place of education for students, but a place of discussion^ 
for adepts ; and the more it is applied to the former purpose the 
less competent it must become to fulfil the latter — its primary 
and most important object 

I am far from wiping to place any obstacle in the way of 
the intellectual advancement and development of women. On 
the contrary, I don't see how we are to make any permanent 
advancement while one-half of the race is sunk, as nine-tenths 
of women are, in mere ignorant parsonese superstitions ; and to 
show you that my ideas are practical I have fully made up my 
mind, if I can carry out my own plans, to give my daughters 
the same training in physical science as their brother will get, 
so long as he is a boy. They, at any rate, shall not be got up 
as man-traps for the matrimonial market. If other people would 
do the like the next generation would see women fit to be the 
companions of men in all their pursuits — ^though I don't think 
that men have anything to fear from their competition. But 
you know as well as I do that other people won't do the like, 
and five-sixths of women will stop in the doll stage of evolution 
to be the stronghold of parsondom, the drag on civilisation, the 
degradation of every important pursuit with which they mix 
themselves — " intrigues " in politics, and " friponnes " in science. 

If my claws and beak are good for anything they shall be 
kept from hindering the progress of any science I have to do 
with. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Three letters to Mr. Spencer show that he had been 
reading and criticising the proofs of the First Principles. 
With regard to the second letter, which gives reasons for 
rejecting Mr. Spencer's remarks about the power of infla- 
tion in birds during flight, it is curious to note Mr. Spencer's 
reply : — 

How oddly the antagonism comes out even when you are not 
conscious of it I My authority was Owen I I heard him assign 



this cause for the falling of wounded birds in one of his lectures 
at the College of Surgeons. 

14 Waverley Place, Sept, 3, i860. 

My dear Spencer — I return your proofs by this post. To 
my mind nothing can be better than their contents, whether in 
matter or in manner, and as my wife arrived, independently, at 
the same opinion, I think my judgment is not one-sided. 

There is something calm and dignified about the tone of the 
whole — which eminently befits a philosophical work which 
means to live — ^and nothing can be more clear and forcible than 
the argument. 

I rejoice that you have made a beginning, and such a begin- 
ning — for the more I think about it the more important it seems 
to me that somebody should think out into a connected system 
the loose notions that are floating about more or less distinctly 
in all the best minds. 

It seems as if all the thoughts in what you have written were 
my own, and yet I am conscious of the enormous difference your 
presentation of them makes in my intellectual state. One is 
thought in the state of hemp yarn, and the other in the state of 
rope. Work away, then, excellent rope-maker, and make us 
more ropes to hold on against the devil and the parsons. 

For myself I am absorbed in dogs — gone to the dogs in fact 
— ^having been occupied in dissecting them for the last fort- 
night. You do not say how your health is. — Ever yours faith- 
fully, T. H. Huxley. 

Sipu 19, i860. 

My dear Spencer — ^You will forgive the delay which has 
occurred in forwarding your proof when I tell you that we have 
lost our poor little son, our pet and hope. You who knew him 
well, and know how his mother's heart and mine were wrapped 
up in him, will understand how great is our affliction. He was 
attacked with a bad form of scarlet fever on Thursday night, 
and on Saturday night effusion on the brain set in suddenly and 
carried him off in a couple of hours. Jessie was taken ill on 
Friday, but has had the disease quite lightly, and is doing well. 
The baby has escaped. So end many hopes and plans — sadly 
enough, and yet not altogether bitterly. For as the little fellow 
was our greatest joy so is the recollection of him an enduring 
consolation. It is a heavy payment, but I would buy the four 
years of him again at the same price. My wife bears up bravely. 

I have read your proofs at intervals, and you must not sup- 



pose they have troubled me. On the contrary they were at times 
the only things I could attend to. I agree in the spirit of the 
whole perfectly. On some matters of detail I had doubts which 
I am not at present clear-headed enough to think out. 

The only thing I object to in toto is the illustration which I 
have marked at p. 24. It is physically impossible that a bird's 
air-cells should be distended with air during flight, unless the 
structure of the parts is in reality different from anything which 
anatomists at present know. Blowing into the tradiea is not to 
the point. A bird cannot blow into its own trachea, and it has 
no mechanism for performing a corresponding action. 

A bird's chest is essentially a pair of bellows in which the 
sternum during rest and the back during flight act as movable 
wall. The air cells may all be represented as soft-walled bags 
opening freely into the bellows — ^there being, so far as anatomists 
yet know, no valves or corresponding contrivances anywhere 
except at the glottis, which corresponds with the nozzle and air 
valve both, of our bellows. But the glottis is always opened 
when the chest is dilated at each inspiration. How then can 
the air in any air-cell be kept at a higher tension than the sur- 
rounding atmosphere? 

Hunter experimented on the uses of the air sacs, I know, 
but I have not his works at hand. It may be that opening one 
of the air-cells interferes with flight, but I hold it very difficult 
to conceive that the interference can take place in the way you 
suppose. How on earth is a lark to sing for ten minutes together 
if the air-cells are to be kept distended all the while he is up in 
the air ? 

At any rate twenty other illustrations will answer your pur- 
pose as well, so I would not select one which may be assailed 
by a carping fellow like — ^Yours very faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Oct. 10, i860. 

My dear Spencer *~" A wilful man must have his way," 
and if you won't let me contribute towards the material guar- 
antees for the success of your book, I must be content to add 
twelve shillings* worth of moral influence to that I already meant 
to exert per annum in its favour. 

I shall be most glad henceforth, as ever, to help your great 

♦ This was written at the time when Mr. Spencer had issued a 
notice of discontinuance, and when measures were being taken to pre- 
vent it. 



undertaking in any way I can. The more I contemplate its 
issues the more important does it seem to me to be, and I assure 
you that I look upon its success as the business of all of us. So 
that if it were not a pleasure I should feel it a duty to " push 
behind'' as hard as I can. 

Have you seen this quarter's Westminster? The opening 
article on " Neo-Christianity " is one of the most remarkable 
essays in its way I have ever read. I suppose it must be New- 
man's. The Review is terribly unequal, some of the other arti- 
cles being absolutely ungrammatically written. What a pity it 
is it cannot be thoroughly organised. 

My wife is a little better, but she is terribly shattered. By 
the time you come back we shall, I hope, have reverted from our 
present hospital condition to our normal arrangements, but in 
any case we shall be glad to see you. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The following is, I think, the first reference to his 
fastidiousness in the literary expression and artistic com- 
pleteness of his work. As he said in an after-dinner speech 
at a meeting in aid of the Literary Fund, " Science and 
literature are not two things, but two sides of one thing." 
Anything that was to be published he subjected to repeated 
revision. And thus, apologising to Hooker for his absence, 
he writes (August 2, i860) — 

I was sorry to have to send an excuse by Tyndall the other 
day, but I found I must finish the Pyrosoma paper, and all last 
Tuesday was devoted to it, and I fear the next after will have 
the like fate. 

It constantly becomes more and more difficult to me to finish 
things satisfactorily. 

To Hooker also he writes a few days later : — 

I hope your ear is better; take care of yourself, there's a 
good fellow. I can't do without you these twenty years. We 
have a devil of a lot to do in the way of smiting the Amalekites. 

Between two men who seldom spoke of their feelings, 
but let constant intercourse attest them, these words show 
more than the practical side of their friendship, their com- 
munity of aims and interests. Quick, strong-willed, and 
determined as they both were, the fact that they could work 


together for over forty years without the shadow of a mis- 
understanding, presupposes an unusually strong friend- 
ship firmly based upon mutual trust and respect as well 
as liking, the beginning of which Sir J. Hooker thus de- 
scribes : — 

My first meeting your father was in 185 1, shortly after his 
return from the Rattlesnake voyage with Captain Stanley. 
Hearing that I had paid some attention to marine zoology dur- 
ing the voyage of the Antarctic Expedition, he was desirous 
of showing me the results of his studies of the Oceanic Hy- 
drozoa, and he sought me out in consequence. This and the 
fact that we had both embarked in the Naval service in the 
same capacity as medical officers and with the same object of 
scientific research, naturally led to an intimacy which was un- 
disturbed by a shadow of a misunderstanding for nearly forty- 
five following years. Curiously enough, our intercourse might 
have dated from an earlier period by nearly six years had I 
accepted an appointment to the Rattlesnake offered me by Cap- 
tain Stanley, which, but for my having arranged for a journey 
to India, might have been accepted. 

Returning to the purpose of our interview, the researches 
Mr. Huxley laid before me were chiefly those on the Salpae, a 
much misunderstood group of marine Hydrozoa. Of these I 
had amused myself with making drawings during the long and 
often weary months passed at sea on board the Erebus, but hav- 
ing other subjects to attend to, I had made no further study of 
them than as consumers of the vegetable life (Diatoms) of the 
Antarctic Ocean. Hence his observations on their life-history, 
habits, and affinities were on almost all points a revelation to 
me, and I could not fail to recognise in their author all the 
qualities possessed by a naturalist of commanding ability, in- 
dustry, and power of exposition. Our interviews, thus com- 
menced, soon ripened into a friendship, which led to an arrange- 
ment for a monthly meeting, and in the informal establishment 
of a club of nine, the other members of which were, Mr. Busk. 
Dr. Frankland, Mr. Hirst, Sir J. Lubbock, Mr. Herbert Spencer, 
Dr. Tyndall, and Mr. Spottiswoode. 

Just a month after this letter to his friend, the same 
year which had first brought Huxley public recognition 
outside his special sphere brought him also the greatest 
sorrow perhaps of his whole life. I have already spoken 

i860 the standard OF BELIEF 


of the sudden death of the little son in whom so much of 
his own and his wife's happiness was centred. The sudden- 
ness of the blow made it all the more crushing, and the 
mental strain, intensified by the sight of his wife's incon- 
solable grief, brought him perilously near a complete break- 
down. But the birth of another son, on December 11, gave 
the mother some comfort; and as the result of a friendly 
conspiracy between her and Dr. Tyndall, Huxley himself 
was carried oflf for a week's climbing in Wales between 
Christmas and the New Year. 

His reply to a long letter of sympathy in which Charles 
Kingsley set forth the grounds of his own philosophy as to 
the ends of life and the hope of immortality, affords insight 
into the very depths of his nature. It is a rare outburst at 
a moment of intense feeling, in which, more completely than 
in almost any other writing of his, intellectual clearness and 
moral fire are to be seen uniting in a veritable passion for 
truth :— 

14 Waverley Place, Sept 23, i860. 

My dear Kingsley — I cannot sufficiently thank you, both on 
my wife's account and my own, for your long and frank letter, 
and for all the hearty sympathy which it exhibits — and Mrs. 
Kingsley will, I hope, believe that we are no less sensible of 
her kind thought of us. To myself your letter was especially 
valuable, as it touched upon what I thought even more than 
upon what I said in my letter to you. My convictions, positive 
and negative, on all the matters of which you speak, are of long 
and slow growth and are firmly rooted. But the great blow 
which fell upon me seemed to stir them to their foundation, 
and had I lived a couple of centuries earlier I could have fancied 
a devil scoffing at me and them — and asking me what profit it 
was to have stripped myself of the hopes and consolations of 
the mass of mankind? To which my only reply was and is 
—Oh devil ! truth is better than much profit. I have searched 
over the grounds of my belief, and if wife and child and name 
and fame were all to be lost to me one after the other as the 
penalty, still I will not lie. 

And now I feel that it is due to you to speak as frankly as 
you have done to me. An old and worthy friend of mine tried 
some three or four years ago to bring us together — ^because, as 
he said, you were the only man who would do me any good. 



Your letter leads me to think he was right, though not perhaps 
in the sense he attached to his own words. 

To begin with the great doctrine you discuss. I neither deny 
nor affirm the immortality of man. I see no reason for believing 
in it, but, on the other hand, I have no means of disproving it. 

Pray understand that I have no a priori objections to the 
doctrine. No man who has to deal daily and hourly with nature 
can trouble himself about a priori difficulties. Give me such 
evidence as would justify me in believing anything else, and I 
will believe that Why should I not ? It is not half so wonder- 
ful as the conservation of force, or the indestructibility of 
matter. Whoso clearly appreciates all that is implied in the 
falling of a stone can have no difficulty about any doctrine simply 
on account of its marvellousncss. But the longer I live, the 
more obvious it is to me that the most sacred act of a man's 
life is to say and to feel, " I believe such and such to be true." 
All the greatest rewards and all the heaviest penalties of exist- 
ence cling about that act. The universe is one and the same 
throughout; and if the condition of my success in unravelling 
some little difficulty of anatomy or physiology is that I shall 
rigorously refuse to put faith in that which does not rest on 
sufficient evidence, I cannot believe that the great mysteries 
of existence will be laid open to me on other terms. It is no use 
to talk to me of analogies and probabilities. I know what I 
mean when I say I believe in the law of the inverse squares, 
and I will not rest my life and my hopes upon weaker convic- 
tions. I dare not if I would. 

Measured by this standard, what becomes of the doctrine of 
immortality ? 

You rest in your strong conviction of your personal exist- 
ence, and in the instinct of the persistence of that existence 
which is so strong in you as in most men. 

To me this is as nothing. That my personality is the surest 
thing I know — may be true. But the attempt to conceive what 
it is leads me into mere verbal subtleties. I have champed up 
all that chaff about the ego and the non-ego, about noumena 
and phenomena, and all the rest of it, too often not to know that 
in attempting even to think of these questions, the human intel- 
lect flounders at once out of its depth. 

It must be twenty years since, a boy, I read Hamilton's essay 
on the unconditioned, and from that time to this, ontological 
speculation has been a folly to me. When Mansel took up 
Hamilton's argument on the side of orthodoxy (!) I said he re- 


minded me of nothing so much as the man who is sawing off the 
sign on which he is sitting, in Hogarth's picture. But this by 
the way. 

I cannot conceive of my personality as a thing apart from 
the phenomena of my life. When I try to form such a concep- 
tion I discover that, as Coleridge would have said, I only hypos- 
tatise a word, and it alters nothing. if, with Fidhte, I suppose 
the universe to be nothing but a manifestation of my personality. 
I am neither more nor less eternal than I was before. 

Nor does the infinite difference between myself and the 
animals alter the case. I do not know whether the animals per- 
sist after they disappear or not. I do not even know whether 
the infinite difference between us and them may not be com- 
pensated by their persistence and my cessation after apparent 
death, just as the humble bulb of an annual lives, while the 
glorious flowers it has put forth die away. 

Surely it must be plain that an ingenious man could specu- 
late without end on both sides, and find analogies for all his 
dreams. Nor does it help me to tell me that the aspirations of 
mankind — ^that my own highest aspirations even — ^lead me 
towards the doctrine of immortality. I doubt the fact, to begin 
with, but if it be so even, what is this but in grand words asking 
me to believe a thing because I like it. 

Science has taught to me the opposite lesson. She warns 
me to be careful how I adopt a view which jumps with my pre- 
conceptions, and to require stronger evidence for such belief 
than for one to which I was previously hostile. 

My business is to teach my aspirations to conform them- 
selves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonise with my 

Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest 
manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian con- 
ception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before 
fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived 
notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature 
leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn 
content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to 
do this. 

There are, however, other arguments commonly brought 
forward in favour of the immortality of man, which are to my 
mind not only delusive but mischievous. The one is the notion 
that the moral government of the world is imperfect without a 
system of future rewards and punishments. The other is: that 


such a system is indispensable to practical morality. I believe 
that both these dogmas are very mischievous lies. 

With respect to the first, I am no optimist, but I have the 
firmest belief that the Divine Government (if we may use such 
a phrase to express the sum of the "customs of matter") is 
wholly just. The more I know intimately of the lives of other 
men (to say nothing of my own), the more obvious it is to me 
that the wicked does not flourish nor is the righteous punished. 
But for this to be clear we must bear in mind what almost all 
forget, that the rewards of life are contingent upon obedience 
to the whole law — physical as well as moral — and that moral 
obedience will not atone for physical sin, or tnce versa. 

The ledger of the Almighty is strictly kept, and every one 
of us has the balance of his operations paid over to him at the 
end of every minute of his existence. 

Life cannot exist without a certain conformity to the sur- 
rounding universe — ^that conformity involves a certain amount 
of happiness in excess of pain. In short, as we live we are paid 
for living. 

And it is to be recollected in view of the apparent discrep- 
ancy between men's acts and their rewards that Nature is juster 
than we. She takes into account what a man brings with him 
into the world, which human justice cannot do. If I, bom a 
bloodthirsty and savage brute, inheriting these qualities from 
others, kill you, my fellow-men will very justly hang me, but 
I shall not be visited with the horrible remorse which would 
be my real punishment if, my nature being higher, I had done 
the same thing. 

The absolute justice of the system of things is as clear to me 
as any scientific fact. The gravitation of sin to sorrow is as 
certain as that of the earth to the sun, and more so — for experi- 
mental proof of the fact is within reach of us all — nay, is before 
us all in our own lives, if we had but the eyes to see it. 

Not only, then, do I disbelieve in the need for compensation, 
but I believe that the seeking for rewards and punishments out 
of this life leads men to a ruinous ignorance of the fact that 
their inevitable rewards and punishments are here. 

If the expectation of hell hereafter can keep me from evil- 
doing, surely a fortiori the certainty of hell now will do so ? If 
a man could be firmly impressed with the belief that stealing 
damaged him as much as swallowing arsenic would do (and it 
does), would not the dissuasive force of that belief be greater 
than that of any based on mere future expectations ? 

i860 the doctrine OF IMMORTALItY 


And this leads me to my other point. 

As I stood behind the coffin of my little son the other day, 
with my mind bent on anything but disputation, the officiating 
minister read, as a part of his duty, the words, ''If the dead 
rise not again, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." I 
cannot tell you how inexpressibly tliey shocked me. Paul had 
neither wife nor child, or he must have known that his alterna- 
tive involved a blasphemy against all that was best and noblest 
in human nature. I could have laughed with scorn. What! 
because I am face to face with irreparable loss, because I have 
given back to the source from whence it came, the cause of a 
great happiness, still retaining through all my life the blessings 
which have sprung and will spring from that cause, I am to 
renounce my manhood, and, howling, grovel in bestiality ? Why, 
the very apes know better, and if you shoot their young, the 
poor brutes grieve their grief out and do not immediately seek 
distraction in a gorge. 

Kicked into the world a boy without guide or training, or 
with worse than none, I confess to my shame that few men have 
drunk deeper of all kinds of sin than I. Happily, my course 
was arrested in time — ^before I had earned absolute destruction 
— and for long years I have been slowly and painfully climbing, 
with many a fall, towards better things. And when I look back, 
what do I find to have been the agents of my redemption ? The 
hope of immortality or of future reward? I can honestly say 
that for these fourteen years such a consideration has not en- 
tered my head. No, I can tell you exactly what has been at 
work. Sartor Resartus led me to know that a deep sense of 
religion was compatible with the entire absence of theology. 
Secondly, science and her methods gave me a resting-place in- 
dependent of authority and tradition. Thirdly, love opened up 
to me a view of the sanctity of human nature, and impressed 
me with a deep sense of responsibility. 

If at this moment I am not a worn-out, debauched, useless 
carcass of a man, if it has been or will be my fate to advance 
the cause of science, if I feel that I have a shadow of a claim 
on the love of those about me, if in the supreme moment when 
I looked down into my boy's grave my sorrow was full of sub- 
mission and without bitterness, it is because these agencies have 
worked upon me, and not because I have ever cared whether my 
poor personality shall remain distinct for ever from the All from 
whence it came and whither it goes. 

And thus, my dear Kingsley, you will understand what my 


position is. I may be quite wrong, and in that case I know I 
shall have to pay the penalty for being wrong. But I can only 
say with Luther, " Gott helfe mir, Ich kann nichts anders." 

I know right well that 99 out of 100 of my fellows would call 
me atheist, infidel, and all the other usual hard names. As our 
laws stand, if the lowest thief steals my coat, my evidence (my 
opinions being known) would not be received against him.* 

But I cannot help it. One thing people shall not call me 
with justice and that is — a liar. As you say of yourself, I too 
feel that I lack courage; but if ever the occasion arises when 
I am bound to speak, I will not shame my boy. 

I have spoken more openly and distinctly to you than I ever 
have to any human being except my wife. 

If you can show me that I err in premises or conclusion, I 
am ready to give up these as I would any other theories. But at 
any rate you will do me the justice to believe that I have not 
reached my conclusions without the care befitting the momentous 
nature of the problems involved. 

And I write this the more readily to you, because it is clear 
to me that if that great and powerful instrument for good or 
evil, the Church of England, is to be saved from being shivered 
into fragments by the advancing tide of science — an event I 
should be very sorry to witness, but which will infallibly occur 
if men like Samuel of Oxford are to have the guidance of her 
destinies — it must be by the efforts of men who, like yourself, 
see your way to the combination of the practice of the Church 
with the spirit of science. Understand that all the younger men 
of science whom I know intimately are essentially of my way 
of thinking. (I know not a scoffer or an irreligious or an im- 
moral man among them, but they all regard orthodoxy as you 
do Brahmanism.) Understand that this new school of the 
prophets is the only one that can work miracles, the only one 
that can constantly appeal to nature for evidence that it is right, 
and you will comprehend that it is of no use to try to barricade 
us with shovel hats and aprons, or to talk about our doctrines 
being " shocking." 

I don't profess to understand the logic of yourself, Maurice, 
and the rest of your school, but I have always said I would 
swear by your truthfulness and sincerity, and that good must 
come of your efforts. The more plain this was to me, however, 
the more obvious the necessity to let you see where the men of 

* The law with respect to oaths was reformed in 1869. 



science are driving, and it has often been in my mind to write 
to you before. 

If I have spoken too plainly anywhere, or too abruptly, 
pardon me, and do the like to me. 

My wife thanks you very much for your volume of sermons. 
-Ever yours very faithfully. ^ ^ ^^^^^ 

A letter written in reply to the suggestion that he 
should carry out Hooker's own good resolutions of keep- 
ing out of the turmoil of life, and devoting himself to 
pure science, seems to indicate in its tone something of 
the stress of the time when it was written — 

Jermyn Street, Z?^r. 19, i860. 

My dear Hooker — What with one thing and another, I have 
almost forgotten to answer your note — and first, as to the busi- 
ness matter. . . . Next as to my own private affairs, the young- 
ster is "a swelling wisibly," and my wife is getting on better 
than I hoped, though not quite so well as I could have wished. 
The boy's advent is a great blessing to her in all ways. For 
myself I hardly know yet whether it is pleasure or pain. The 
ground has gone from under my feet once, and I hardly know 
how to rest on anything again. Irrational, you will say, but 
nevertheless natural. And finally as to your resolutions, my 
holy pilgrim, they will be kept about as long as the resolutions 
of other anchorites who are thrown into the busy world, or I 
won't say that, for assuredly you will take the world " as coolly 
as you can," and so shall I. But that coolness amounts to the 
red heat of properly constructed mortals. 

It is no use having any false modesty about the matter. You 
and I, if we last ten years longer, and you by a long while first, 
will be the representatives of our respective lines in this country. 
In that capacity we shall have certain duties to perform to our- 
selves, to the outside world, and to science. We shall have to 
swallow praise which is no great pleasure, and to stand multi- 
tudinous basting and irritations, which will involve a good deal 
of unquestionable pain. Don't flatter yourself that there is any 
moral chloroform by which either you or I can render ourselves 
insensible or acquire the habit of doing things coolly. It is 
assuredly of no great use to tear one's self to pieces before one 
is fifty. But the alternative, for men constructed on the high 
pressure tubular boiler principle, like ourselves, is. to lie still 



and let the devil have his own way. And I will be torn to 
pieces before I am forty sooner than see that. 

I have been privately trading on my misfortunes in order to 
get a little peace and quietness for a few months. If I can help 
it I don't mean to do any dining out this winter, and I have cut 
down Societies to the minimimi of the Geological, from which I 
cannot get away. 

But it won't do to keep this up too long. By and by one must 
drift into the stream again, and then there is nothing for it but 
to pull like mad unless we want to be run down by every collier. 

I am going to do one sensible thing, however, viz. to rush 
down to Llanberis with Busk between Christmas Day and New 
Year's Day and get my lungs full of hill-air for the coming 

I was at Down on Saturday and saw Darwin. He seems 
fairly well, and his daughter was up and looks better than I 
expected to see her. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Meanwhile, he took the opportunity to make the child's 
birth a new link with his old friend, and wrote as follows : — 

14 Waverlky Place, Jan. 3, 1861. 

My dear Hooker — If I had nothing else to write about I 
must wish you a Happy New Year and many on 'em; but, in 
fact, my wife and I have a great favour to ask of you, which 
is neither more nor less than to stand godfather for our little 
son. You know my opinions on these matters, and I would not 
ask you to do anything I would not do myself, so if you consent, 
the clerk shall tell all the lies for you, and you shall be asked 
to do nothing else than to help devour the christening feed, and 
be as good a friend to the boy as you have been to his father. 

My wife will have the youngster christened, although I am 
always in a bad temper from the time it is talked about until the 
ceremony is over. The only way of turning the farce into a 
reality is by making it an extra bond with one's friends. On the 
other hand, if you have any objection to say, " all this I stead- 
fastly believe," even by deputy, I know you will have no hesita- 
tion in saying so, and in giving me as frank a refusal as my 

* As against his dislike of consenting to a rite, to him meaningless, 
he was moved by a feeling which in part corresponded to Descartes* 
morale par provision, — in part was an acknowledgment of the possi- 


Let me know if you have any fault to find with the new 
Review. I think you will see it would have been a dreadful busi- 
ness to translate all the German titles in thei bibliography. I 
returned from a ramble about Snowdon with Busk and Tyndall 
on the 31st, all the better. My wife is decidedly improved, 
though she mends but slowly. 

Our best wishes to you and all yours. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Any fragments from the rich man's table for the next No. 
of NJiJiJ 

14 WwivERLBY Place, /fli». 6, 1861. 

My dear Hooker — My wife and I were very pleased to get 

your hearty and kind acceptance of Godfathership. We shall 

not call upon you for some time, I fancy, as the mistress doesn't 

. get strong very fast. However, I am only glad she is well as she 

is. She came down yesterday for the first time. 

It is very pleasant to get such expressions of opinion as I 
have had from you, Lyell, and Darwin about the Review. They 
make me quite hopeful about its prosperity, as I am sure we 
shall be able to do better than our first number. 

I am glad you liked what I said in the opening of my article.* 
I wish not to be in any way confounded with the cynics who 
delight in degrading man, or with the common run of material- 
ists, who think mind is any the lower for being a function of 
matter. I dislike them even more than I do the pietists. 

Some of these days I shall look up the ape question again, 
and go over the rest of the organisation in the same way. But 
in order to get a thorough grip of the question, I must examine 

bilities of individual development, making it only fair to a child to 
give it a connection with the official spiritual organisation of its coun- 
try, which it could either ignore or continue on reaching intellectual 

* In iht Natural History Review {i^ti^ p. 67). — **The proof of his 
claim to independent parentage will not change the brutishness of 
man's lower nature ; nor, except in those valet souls who cannot see 
greatness in their fellow because his father was a cobbler, will the 
demonstration of a pithecoid pedigree one whit diminish man's divine 
right of kingship over nature ; nor lower the great and princely dig- 
nity of perfect manhood, which is an order of nobility not inherited, 
but to be won by each of us, so far as he consciously seeks good and 
avoids evil, and puts the faculties with which he is endowed to their 
fittest use." 



into a good many points for myself. The results, when they do 
come out, will, I foresee, astonish the natives. 

I am cold-proof, and all the better for the Welsh trip. To 
say truth, I was just on the edge of breaking down when I went. 
Did I ever send you a letter of mine on the teaching of Natural 
History? It was published while you were away, and I forget 
whether I sent it or not. However, a copy accompanies this 
note. . . . 

Of course there will be room for your review and welcome. • 
I have put it down and reckon on it — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Huxley returned from the trip to Wales in time to be 
with his wife for the New Year. The plot she had made, 
with Dr. Tyndall had been entirely successful. The threat- 
ened breakdown was averted. Wales in winter was as good 
as Switzerland. Of the ascent of Snowdon he writes on 
December 28 : " Both Tyndall and I voted it under present 
circumstances as good as most things Alpine." 

His wife, however, continued in very weak health. She 
was prostrated by the loss of her little boy. So in the 
middle of March he gladly accepted Mr. Darwin's invita- 
tion for her and the three children to spend a fortnight 
in the quiet of his house at Down, where he himself managed 
to run down for a week end. " It appears to me," he 
writes to his wife, ** that you are subjecting poor Darwin to 
a savage Tennysonian persecution. I shall see him look- 
ing like a martyr and have to talk double science next 

In April another good friend, Dr. Bence Jones, lent the 
invalid his house at Folkestone for three months. Unable 
even to walk when she went there, her recovery was a slow 
business. Huxley ran down every week ; his brother George 
and his wife also were frequent visitors. Meanwhile he 
resolved to move into a new house, in order that she might 
not return to a place so full of sorrowful memories. On 
May 30 he effected the move to a larger house not half a 
mile away from Waverley Place — ^26 Abbey Place (now 
23 Abercom Place). Here also Mrs. Heathom lived for the 
next year, my grandfather, over seventy as he was, being 



compelled to go out again to Australia to look after a busi- 
ness venture of his which had come to grief. 

Meantime the old house was still on his hands for an- 
other year. Trying to find a tenant, he writes on May 21, 

I met J. Tyndall at Ramsay's last night, and I think he is 
greatly inclined to have the house. I gave him your message 
and found that a sneaking kindness for the old house actuated 
him a good deal in wishing to take it It is not a bad fellow, 
and we won't do him much on the fixtures. 

Eventually Tyndall and his friend Hirst established 
themselves there. 

This spring Professor Henslow, Mrs. Hooker's father, a 
botanist of the first rank, and a man extraordinarily beloved 
by all who came in contact with him, was seized with a 
mortal illness, and lingered on without hope of recovery 
through almost the whole of April. Huxley writes : — 

Jermyn Street, April \^ 1861. 

My dear Hooker — I am very much grieved and shocked by 
your letter. The evening before last I heard from Busk that 
your father-in-law had been ill, and that you had been to see 
him, and I meant to have written to you yesterday to inquire, 
but it was driven out of my head by people coming here. And 
then I had a sort of unreasonable notion that I should see you 
at the Linnaean Council to-day and hear that all was right again. 
God knows, I feel for you and your poor wife. Knowing what 
a great rift the loss of a mere undeveloped child will leave in 
one's life, I can faintly picture to myself the great and irrep- 
arable vacuity in a family circle caused by the vanishing out 
of it of such a man as Henslow, with great acquirements, and 
that great calm catholic judgment and sense which always 
seemed to me more prominent in him than in any man I ever 

He had intellect to comprehend his highest duty distinctly, 
and force of character to do it; which of us dare ask for a 
higher summary of his life than that? For such a man there 
can be no fear in facing the great unknown, his life has been 
one long experience of the substantial justice of the laws by 
which this world is governed, and he will calmly trust to them 
still as he lays his head down for his long sleep. 

244 ^^^^ ^^ PROFESSOR HUXLEY chap, xvi 

You know all these things as well as I do, and I know as well 
as you do that such thoughts do not cure heartache or assuage 
grief. Such maladies, when men are as old as you and I are, are 
apt to hang about one a long time, but I find that if they are 
faced and accepted as part of our fair share of life, a great 
deal of good is to be got out of them. You will 6nd that too, 
but in the meanwhile don't go and break yourself down with 
over wear and tear. The heaviest pull comes after the excite- 
ment of a catastrophe of this kind is over. 

Believe in my affectionate sympathy with you, and that I 

am, my dear old fellow, yours ever, . — ^^ ^. 

^ ' ^ • T. H. Huxley. 

And again on the i8th : — 

Many thanks for your two letters. It would be sad to hear 
of life dragging itself out so painfully and slowly, if it were not 
for what you tell me of the calmness and wisdom with which 
the poor sufferer uses such strength as is left him. 

One can express neither wish nor hope in such a case. With 
such a man what is will be well. All I have to repeat is, don't 
knock yourself up. I wish to God I could help you in some way 
or other beyond repeating the parrot cry. If I can, of course 
you will let me know. 

In June 1861 a jotting in his notebook records that he 
is at work on the chick's skull, part of the embryological 
work which he took up vigorously at this time, and at once 
the continuation of his researches on the Vertebrate Skull, 
embodied in his Croonian lecture of 1858, and the beginning 
of a long series of investigations into the structure of birds. 
There is a reference to this in a very interesting letter deal- 
ing chiefly with what he conceived to be the cardinal point 
of the Darwinian theory : — 

26 Abbey Place, S^t, 4, 1861. 

My dear Hooker — ^Yesterday being the first day I went to 
the Athenaeum after reading your note, I had a look at, and a 
good laugh over, the Quarterly article. Who can be the writer? 

I have been so busy studying chicken development, a difficult 
subject to which I had long ago made up my mind to devote my 
first spare time, that I have written you no word about your 
article in the Gardener's Chronicle, I quite agree with the 
general tendency of your argument, though it seems to me that 



you put your view rather too strongly when you seem to ques- 
tion the position " that, as a rule, resemblances prevail over dif- 
ferences " between parent and offspring. Surely, as a rule, re- 
semblances do prevail over differences, though I quite agree 
Mrith you that the latter have been far too much overlooked. The 
great desideratum for the species question at present seems to 
me to be the determination of the law of variation. Because 
no law has yet been made out, Darwin is obliged to speak of 
variation as if it were spontaneous or a matter of chance, so 
that the bishops and superior clergy generally (the only real 
atheists and believers in chance left in the world) gird at him 
as if he were another Lucretius. 

It is [in] the recognition of a tendency to variation apart 
from the variation of what are ordinarily understood as ex- 
ternal conditions that Darwin's view is such an advance 
on Lamarck. Why does not somebody go to work experi- 
mentally, and get at the law of variation for some one species 
of plant ? 

What a capital article that was in the Athenaum the other 
day apud the Schlagintweits.* Don Roderigo is very wroth at 

* The brothers Schlagintweit (four of whom were ultimately 
employed), who had gained some reputation for their work on the 
Physical Geography of the Alps, were, on Humboldt's recommenda- 
tion, despatched by the East India Company in 1854-55-56 to the 
Dieccan, and especially to the Himalayan region (where they were the 
first Europeans to cross the Kuenlun Mountains), in order to correlate 
the instruments and observations of the several magnetic surveys of 
India. But they enlarged the scope of their mission by professing to 
correct the great trigonometrical survey, while the contract with them 
was so loosely drawn up that they had practically a roving commis- 
sion in science, to make researches and publish the results — up to 
nine volumes — in all manner of subjects, which in fact ranged from 
the surveying work to ethnology, and were crowned by an additional 
volume on Buddhism ! The original cost to the Indian Government 
was estimated at ;f 1 5, 000; the allowances from the English Govern- 
ment during the inordinately prolonged period of arranging and pub- 
lishing materials, including payment for sixty copies of each volume, 
atlas, and so forth, as well as personal payments, came to as much 

Unfortunately the results were of less value than was expected. 
The attempt to correct the work done with the large instruments of 
the trigonometrical survey by means of far smaller instruments was 
absurd ; away from the ground covered by the great survey the fig- 
ures proved to be very inaccurate. The most annoying part of the 


being made responsible with Sabine, and indeed I think he had 
little enough to do with it. 

You will see a letter from him in this week's Atheruemn, — 
Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

affair was that it absorbed the State aid which might have been given 
to more valuable researches. 

The Council of the Royal Society had been consulted as to the 
advisability of despatching this expedition and opposed it, for there 
were in the service of the Company not a few men admirably qualified 
for the duty, whose scientific services had received scant appreciation. 
Nevertheless, the expedition started after all, with the approval of 
Colonel Sabine, the president. In the last months of 1866, Huxley 
drew up for the Royal Society a report upon the scientific value of the 
results of the expedition. 



It has been seen that the addition of journalistic work 
in science to the mass of original research and teaching 
work upon which Huxley was engaged, called forth a re- 
monstrance from both Lyell and Darwin. To Hooker it 
seemed still more serious that he was dividing his allegiance, 
and going far afield in philosophy, instead of concentrating 
himself upon natural science. He writes : — 

I am sorry to hear that you are so poorly, and wish I could 
help you to sit down and work quietly at pure science. You have 
got into a whirlpool, and should strike out vigorously at the 
proper angle, not attempt to breast the whole force of the cur- 
rent, nor yet give in to it. Do take the counsel of a quiet looker 
on and withdraw to your books and studies in pure Natural His- 
tory; let modes of thought alone. You may make a very good 
naturalist, or a very good metaphysician (of that I know noth- 
ing, don't despise me), but you have neither time nor place 
for both. 

However, it must be remarked that this love of philoso- 
phy, not recently acquired either, was only part of the pas- 
sion for general principles underlying the facts of science 
which had always possessed him. And the time expended 
upon it was not directly taken from the hours of scientific 
work ; he would read in bed through the small hours of the 
night, when sleep was slow in coming to him. In this way 
he got through an immense amount of philosophy in the 
course of several years. Not that he could " state the views 
of so and so " upon any given question, or desired such kind 
of knowledge ; he wished to find out and compare with his 
17 247 


own the answers which other thinkers gave to the problems 
which interested himself. 

A gentler reproof of this time touches his handwriting, 
which was never of the most legible, so that his foreign cor- 
respondents in particular sometimes complained. Haeckel 
used to get his difficulties deciphered by his colleague 
Gegenbaur. I cannot forbear quoting the delicate remon- 
strance of Professor Lacaze du Thiers, and the flattering 
remedy he proposed : — 

March 14. — Je lis TAnglais imprime, mais vos Ventures 
anglaises sent si rapides, qu'il m'est quelquefois difficile de m'en 
sortir. On me dit que vous ^crivez si bien le franqais que je 
crois que je vous lirais bien mieux dans ma langue I 

On his return from examining at Dublin, he again 
looked over proofs for Mr. Spencer. 

Jkrmyn Street, Aug, 3, 1861. 

My dear Spencer — I have been absent on a journey to 
Dublin and elsewhere* nearly all this week, and hence your 
note and proof did not reach me till yesterday. I have but just 
had time to glance through the latter, and I need hardly say how 
heartily I concur in its general tenor. I have, however, marked 
one or two passages which I think require some qualification. 
Then, at p. 272, the fact that the vital manifestations of plants 
depend as entirely as those of animals upon the fall towards 
stable equilibrium of the elements of a complex protein com- 
pound is not sufficiently prominent. It is not so much that plants 
are deoxidisers and animals oxidisers, as that plants are manu- 
facturers and animals consumers. It is true that plants manu- 
facture a good deal of non-nitrogenous produce in proportion 
to the nitrogenous, but it is the latter which is chiefly useful to 
the animal consumer and not the former. This point is a very 
important one, which I have never seen clearly and distinctly 
put — the prettiness of Dumas' circulation of the elements having 
seduced everybody. 

Of course this in no way affects the principle of what you 
say. The statements which I have marked at p. 276 and 278 
should have their authorities given, I think. I should hardly 
like to commit myself to them absolutely. 

You will, if my memory does not mislead me, find authority 
for my note at p. 283 in Stephenson's life. I think old Geo. 

♦ Visiting Sir Philip Egerton at Oulton Park. 



Stephenson brought out his views at breakfast at Sir R. Peel's 
when Buckland was there. 

These are all the points that strike me, and I do not keep 
your proof any longer (I send it by the same post as this note), 
because I fear you may be inconvenienced by the delay. 

Tyndall is unfortunately gone to Switzerland, so that I can- 
not get you his comments. Whether he might have picked holes 
in any detail or not I do not know, but I know his opinions suf- 
ficiently well to make sure in his agreement with the "general 
argument In fact a favourite problem of his is — Given the 
molecular forces in a mutton chop, deduce Hamlet or Faust 
therefrom. He is confident that the Physics of the Future will 
solve this easily. 

I am grieved to hear such a poor account of your health ; I 
believe you will have to come at last to the heroic remedy of 
matrimony, and if " gynopathy " were a mode of treatment that 
could be left off if it did not suit the constitution, I should de- 
cidedly recommend it. 

But it's worse than opium-eating— once b^gin and you must 
go on, and so, though I ascribe my own good condition mainly 
to the care my wife takes of me, I dare not recommend it to 
you, lest perchance you should get hold of the wrong medicine. 

Beyond spending a night awake now and then I am in very 
good order, and I am going to spend my vacation in a spasmodic 
eflfort to lick the Manual into shape and work off some other 

My wife i§ very fairly well, and, I trust, finally freed from 
all the symptoms which alarmed me so much. I dread the com- 
ing round of September for her again, but it must be faced. 

The babbies are flourishing; and beyond the facts that we 
have a lunatic neighbour on one side and an empty house on the 
other, that it has cost me about twice as much to get into my 
house as I expected, that the cistern began to leak and spoil a 
ceiling, and such other small drawbacks, the new house is a 
decided success. 

I forget whether I gave you the address, which is — 

26 Abbey Place, 
St. John's Wood. 

You had better direct to me there, as after the loth of this 
month I shall not be here for six weeks. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 


October shows an unusual entry in his diary; the sac- 
rifice of a working evening to hear Jenny Lind sing. Fond 
though he was of music, as those may remember who ever 
watched his face at the Sunday evening gatherings in Marl- 
borough Place in the later seventies, when there was sure 
to be at least a little good music or singing either from 
his daughters or some of the guests, he seldom could spare 
the time for concert-going or theatre-going, and the occa- 
sional notes of his bachelor days, " to the opera with Spen- 
cer," had ceased as his necessary occupations grew more 

This year his friend Hooker moved to Kew to act as 
second in command to his father. Sir William Hooker, the 
director of the Botanical Gardens. This move made meet- 
ings between the two friends, except at clubs and societies, 
more difficult, and was one of the immediate causes of the 
foundation of the x Club. It is this move which is referred 
to in the following letters ; the " poor client " being the 
wife of an old messmate of his on the Rattlesnake : — 

Jermyn Street, Nov. 17. 

My dear Hooker — My wife wrote to yours yesterday, the 
enclosed note explaining the kitchen-revolution which, it seems, 
must delay our meeting. When she had done, however, she did 
not know where to direct it, and I am no wiser, so I send it to 

It's a horrid nuisance and I have sworn a few, but that will 
not cook the dinner, however much it may prepare me for being 
cooked elsewhere. To complete my disgust at things in general, 
my wife is regularly knocked up with dining out twice this 
week, though it was only in the quietest way. I shall have to 
lock her up altogether. 

X has made a horrid mess of it, and I am sorry to say, 

from what I know of him, that I cannot doubt where the fault 
lies. The worst of it is that he has a wife and three children 
over here, left without a penny or any means of support. The 
poor woman wrote to me the other day, and when I went to see 
her I found her at the last shilling and contemplating the work- 
house as her next step. She has brothers in Australia, and it 
appeared to me that the only way to do her any good was to get 
her out. She cannot starve there, and there will be more hope 

i86i A P(X)R CLIENT 


for her children than an English poor-house. I am going to 
see if the Emigration Commissioners will do anything for her, 
as of course it is desirable to cut down the cost of exportation 
to the smallest amount 

It h most lamentable that a man of so much ability should 
have so utterly damned himself as X has, but he is hope- 
lessly Celtic. 

I shall be at the Phil. Club next Thursday. — Ever yours 
faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

14 Waverley Place, Monday morning [Nov. 1861]. 

My dear Hooker — The obstinate manner in which Mrs. 
Hooker and you go on refusing to give any address leads us to 
believe that you are dwelling peripatetically in a " Wan ** with 
green door and brass knocker somewhere on Wormwood 
Scrubbs, and that " Kew " is only a blind. So you see I am 
obliged to inclose Mrs. Hooker's epistle to you. 

You shall have your own way about the dinner, though we 
shall have triumphed over all domestic difficulties by that time, 
and the first lieutenant scorns the idea of being "worrited" 
about anything. I only grieve it is such a mortal long way for 
you to come. 

I could find it in my heart to scold you well for your gener- 
ous aid to my poor client. I assure you I told you ail about the 
case because it was fresh in my mind, and without the least 
notion of going to you for that kind of aid. May it come back 
to you in some good shape or other. 

I find it is no use to look for help from the emigration people, 
but I have no fear of being able to get the £50 which will send 
them out by the Walter Hood. 

Would it be fair to apply to Bell in such a case ? I will have 
a talk to you about it at the Phil. Club. — Ever, my dear Hooker, 
yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

In 1862, in addition to all the work connected with the 
species question already detailed, Huxley published three 
paleontological papers,* while the paper on the " Anatomy 
and Development of Pyrosoma," first read on December i, 

♦ ** On the new Labyrinthodonts from the coal-field of Edinburgh " ; 
•* On a Stalk-eyed Crustacean from the coal-fields of Paisley " ; and 
" On the Teeth of Diprotodon." 


1859, was now published in the Proceedings of the Linncean 

In the list of work in hand are four paleontological pa- 
pers,* besides the slowly progressing Manual of Comparative 

When he went north to deliver his lectures at Edin- 
burgh " On the relation of Man to the Lower Animals/' 
he took the opportunity of examining fossils at Forfar, 
and lectured also at Glasgow; while at Easter he went to 
Ireland; on March 15 he was at Dublin, lecturing there 
on the 25th. 

Reference has already been made (in the letter to C. 
Darwin of May 6, 1862) to the unsatisfactory state of Hux- 
ley's health. He was further crippled by neuralgic rheu- 
matism in his arm and shoulder, and to get rid of this, went 
on July I to Switzerland for a month's holiday. Reaching 
Grindelwald on the 4th, he was joined on the 6th by Dr. 
Tyndall, and with him rambled on the glacier and made 
an expedition to the Faulhom. On the 13th they went 
to the Rhone glacier, meeting Sir J. Lubbock on their way, 
at the other side of the Grimsel. Both here and at the 
Eggischhom, where they went a few days later, Huxley 
confined himself to easy expeditions, or, as his notebook 
has it, stayed " quiet " or " idle," while the hale pair as- 
cended the Galenstock and the Jungfrau. 

By July 28 he was home again in time for an exam- 
iners' meeting at the London University the next day, and 
z viva voce in physiology on the 4th August, before going 
to Scotland to serve on the Fishery Commission. 

This was the first of the numerous commissions on 
which he served. With his colleagues. Dr. Lyon Playfair 
(afterwards Lord Playfair) and Colonel Maxwell, he was 
busy from August 8 to September 16, chiefly on the west 
coast, taking evidence from the trawlers and their oppo- 

♦ ** On Indian Fossils," on "Cephalaspis and Pteraspis," on **Sta- 
gonolepis/* and a "Memoir descriptive of Labyrinthodont remains 
from the Trias and Coal of Britain," which he first treated of in 1858, 
"clearly establishing for the first time the vertebrate nature of these 
remains."— Sir M. Foster, Obit. Notice, Prcc, R. S, lix. 55. 


nents, and making direct investigations into the habits of 
the herring. 

The following letter to Mr. (afterwards Sir W. H.) 
Flower, then Curator of the Royal College of Surgeons' 
Museum, refers to this trip and to his appointment to the 
examinership in physiology at the College of Surgeons, for 
which he had applied in May and which he held until 1870. 
Mr. Flower, indeed, was deeply interested at this time in 
the same problems as Huxley, and helped his investigations 
for Man's Place by making a number of dissections to test 
the disputed relations between the brain of man and of 
the apes. 

Hotel db la Jungfrau, Aeggischhorn, July 18, 1862. 

My dear Flower — Many thanks for your letter. I shall 
make my acknowledgments to the council in due form when I 
have read the official announcement on my return to England. 

I trust they will not have occasion to repent declining Dr. 's 

offer. At any rate I shall do my best 

I am particularly obliged to you for telling me about the 
Dijon bones. Dijon lies quite in my way in returning to Eng- 
land, and I shall stop a day there for the purpose of making the 
acquaintance of M. Nodet and his Schisopleuron. I have a sort 
of dim recollection that there are some other remains of extinct 
South American mammals in the Dijon Museum which I ought 
to see. 

Your news about the lower jaw made me burst out into such 
an exclamation that all the salle-a-manger heard me ! I saw the 
fitness of the thing at once. The foramen and the shape of the 
condyle ought to have suggested it at once. 

I have had a very pleasant trip, passing through Grindel- 
wald, the Aar valley, and the Rhone valley, as far as here ; but, 
up to the day before yesterday, my health remained very unsatis- 
factory, and I was terribly teased by the neuralgia or rheu- 
matism or whatever it is. 

On that day, however, I had a very sharp climb involving a 
great deal of exertion and a most prodigious sweating, and on 
the next morning I really woke up a new man. Yesterday I re- 
peated the dose and I am in hopes now that I shall come back 
fit to grapple with all the work that lies before me. — Ever, my 

dear Flower, yours very faithfully, 'p u xj 

1 . rl. rlUXLEY. 


This autumn he gladly took on what appeared to be an 
additional piece of work. On October 12 he writes from 
26 Abbey Place : — 

I saw Flower yesterday, and I find that my present colleague 
in the Hunterian Professorship wishes to get rid of his share 
in the lectures, having, I suppose, at the eleventh hour discov- 
ered his incompetency. It looks paradoxical to say so, but it 
will really be easier for me to give eighteen or twenty-four lec- 
tures than twelve, so that I have professed my readiness to take 
as much as he likes off his hands. 

This professorship had been in existence for more than 
sixty years, for when the Museum of the famous anatomist 
John Hunter was entrusted to the College of Surgeons by 
the Government, the condition was made that " one course 
of lectures, not less than twenty-four in number, on com- 
parative anatomy and other subjects, illustrated by the 
preparations, shall be given every year by some member of 
the company." Huxley arranged to publish from year to 
year the substance of his lectures on the vertebrates, " and 
by that process to bring out eventually a comprehensive, 
though condensed, systematic work on Comparative Anat- 
omy.'* * 

Of the labour entailed in this course, the late Sir W. H. 
Flower wrote: — 

When, in 1862, he was appointed to the Hunterian Pro- 
fessorship at the College of Surgeons, he took for the subject 
of several yearly courses of lectures the anatomy of the verte- 
brata, beginning with the primates, and as the subject was then 
rather new to him, and as it was a rule with him never to make 
a statement in a lecture which was not founded upon his own 
actual observation, he set to work to make a series of original 
dissections of all the forms he treated of. These were carried 
on in the workroom at the top of the college, and mostly in the 
evenings, after his daily occupation at Jermyn Street (the 
School of Mines, as it was then called) was over, an arrange- 
ment which my residence in the college buildings enabled me 
to make for him. These rooms contained a large store of 
material, entire or partially dissected animals preserved in spirit, 

* Comparative Anatomy^ vol. i. Preface. 



which, unlike those mounted in the museum, were available for 
further investigation in any direction, and these, supplemented 
occasionally by fresh subjects from the Zoological Gardens, 
formed the foundation of the lectures. ... On these evenings 
it was always my privilege to be with him, and to assist in the 
work in which he was engaged. In dissecting, as in everything 
else, he was a very rapid worker, going straight to the point he 
wished to ascertain with a firm and steady hand, never diverted 
into side issues, nor wasting any time in unnecessary polishing 
up for the sake of appearances; the very opposite, in fact, to 
what is commonly known as " finikin." His great facility for 
bold and dashing sketching came in most usefully in this work, 
the notes he made being largely helped out with illustrations. 

The following is the letter in which he makes himself 
known to Professor Haeckel of Jena, who, in his thanks for 
the specimens, bewails the lot of " us poor inland Germans, 
who have to get help from England." 

The Royal School of Mines* 
Jermyn Street. London, October 28, 1862. 

Sir — A copy of your exceedingly valuable and beautiful 
monograph, " Die Radiolarien," came into my hands two or 
three days ago, and I have been devoting the little leisure I 
possess just at present to a careful study of its contents, which 
are to me profoundly interesting and instructive. 

Permit me to say this much by way of introduction to a 
request which I have to prefer, which is, that you will be good 
enough to let me have a copy of your Habitationsschrift, De 
Rhizopodum Finibus, if you have one to spare. If it is sent 
through Frommans of Jena to the care of Messrs.* Williams and 
Norgate, London, it will reach me safely. 

I observe that in your preface you state that you have no 
specimen of the famous Barbadoes deposit. As I happen to 
possess some from Schomburgk's own collection, I should be 
ashamed to allow you any longer to suffer from that want, and I 
beg your acceptance of the inclosed little packet. If this is not 
sufficient, pray let me know and I will send you as much more. 

If you desire it, I can also send you some of the Oran earth, 
and as much as you like of the Atlantic deep-sea soundings, 
which are almost entirely made up of Globigerina and Polycis- 
tina. — I am. Sir, yours very faithfully, 

Thomas H. Huxley. 


The next letter refers to the scientific examinations at 
the University of London. 

Dec, 4, 1862. 

My dear Hooker — I look upon you as art and part of the 
Natural History Review, though not ostensibly one of the gang, 
so I bid you to a feast, partly of reason and partly of mutton, at 
my house on December 11 (being this day week) at half-past 
six. Do come if you can, for we have not seen your ugly old 
phiz for ages, and should be comforted by an inspection thereof, 
however brief. 

I did my best yesterday to get separate exhibitions for Chem- 
istry, Botany, and Zoological Biology, at the committee yester- 
day,* and I suspect from your letter that if you had been there 
you would have backed me. However, it is clear they only 
mean to g^ve separate exhibits for Chemistry and Biology as a 

Because Botany and Zoology are, philosophically speaking, 
cognate subjects, people are under the delusion that it is easier 
to work both up at the same time, than it would be to work up, 
say. Chemistry and Botany. Just fancy asking a young man 
who has heaps of other things to work up for the B.Sc, to 
qualify himself for honours both in botany, histological, sys- 
tematic, and physiological. That is to say, to get a practical 
knowledge of both these groups of subjects. 

I really think the botanical and zoological examiners ought 
to memorialise the senate jointly on the subject. The present 
system leads to mere sham and cram. — Ever yours, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The yean 1863, notable for the publication of Huxley's 
first book, found him plunged deep in an immense quantity 
of work of all sorts. He was still examiner in Physiology 
and Comparative Anatomy at the London University, a 
post he held from 1855 to 1863, 2i"d again from 1865 to 
1870, " making," as Sir Michael Foster says, " even an 
examination feel the influence of the new spirit in biology ; 
and among his examinees at that time there was one at 
least who, knowing Huxley by his writings, but by his 
writings only, looked forward to the viva voce test, not as 
a trial, but as an occasion of delight." 

* At the London University. 


In addition to the work mentioned in the following 
letters, I note three lectures at Hull on April 6, 8, and 10 ; 
a paper on " Craniology " (January 17), and his " Letter on 
the Human Remains in the Shell Mounds," in the Ethfw- 
logical Society's Transactions, while the Fishery Commission 
claimed much of his time, either at the Board of Trade, or 
travelling over the north, east, and south coasts from the 
end of July to the beginning of October, and again in 
November and December. 

Jermyn Street, ApH/ 30, 1863. 

My dear Kingsley — I am exceedingly pleased to have your 
good word about the lectures,* — and I think I shall thereby be 
encouraged to do what a great many people have wished — that 
is, to bring out an enlarged and revised edition of them. 

The only difficulty is time — if one could but work five-and- 
twenty hours a day ! 

With respect to the sterility question, I do not think there is 
much doubt as to the effect of breeding in and in in destroying 
fertility. But the sterility which must be obtained by the selec- 
tive breeder in order to convert his morphological species into 
physiological species — ^such as we have in nature — ^must be quite 
irrespective of breeding in and in. 

There is no question of breeding in and in between a horse 
and an ass, and yet their produce is usually a sterile hybrid. 

So if Carrier and Tumbler, e.g., were physiological species 
equivalent to Horse and Ass, their progeny ought to be sterile 
or semi-sterile. So far as experience has gone, on the contrary, 
it is perfectly fertile — as fertile as the progeny of Carrier and 
Carrier or Tumbler and Tumbler. 

From the first time that I wrote about Darwin's book in the 
Times and in the Westminster until now, it has been obvious to 
me that this is the weak point of Darwin's doctrine. He has 
shown that selective breeding is a vera causa for morphological 
species; he has not yet shown it a vera causa for physiological 

But I entertain little doubt that a carefully devised system 
of experimentation would produce physiological species by selec- 
tion—only the feat has not been performed yet. 

I hope you received a copy of Man's Place in Nature, which 
I desired should be sent to you long ago. Don't suppose I ever 

* See p. 223. 


expect an acknowledgment of a book — it is one of the greatest 
nuisances in the world to have that to do, and I never do it — 
but as you mentioned the Lectures and not the other, I thought 
it might not have reached you. If it has not, pray let me know 
and a copy shall be forwarded, as I want you very much to 
read Essay No. 2. 

I have a great respect for all the old bottles, and if the new 
wine can be got to go into them and not burst them I shall be 
very glad — I confess I do not see my way to it; on the con- 
trary, the longer I live and the more I learn the more hopeless 
to my mind becomes the contradiction between the theory of the 
universe as understood and expounded by Jewish and Christian 
theologians, and the theory of the universe which is every day 
and every year growing out of the application of scientific 
methods to its phenomena. 

Whether astronomy and geology can or cannot be made to 
agree with the statements as to the matters of fact laid down 
in Genesis — ^whether the Gospels are historically true or not 
— are matters of comparatively small moment in the face of the 
impassable gulf between the anthropomorphism (however re- 
fined) of theology and the passionless impersonality of the un- 
known and unknowable which science shows everywhere under- 
lying the thin veil of phenomena. 

Here seems to me to be the great gulf fixed between science 
and theology — ^beside which all Colenso controversies, reconcile- 
ments of Scripture d la Pye Smith, etc., cut a very small figure. 

You must have thought over all this long ago; but steeped 
as I am in scientific thought from morning till night, the con- 
trast has perhaps a greater vividness to me. I go into society, 
and except among two or three of my scientific colleagues I 
find myself alone on these subjects, and as hopelessly at variance 
with the majority of my fellow-men as they would be with their 
neighbours if they were set down among the Ashantees. I don't 
like this state of things for myself — least of all do I see how 
it will work out for my children. But as my mind is constituted, 
there is no way out of it, and I can only envy you if you can 
see things differently. — Ever yours very faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Jermyn Street, May 5, 1863. 
My dear Kingsley — My wife and children are away at 
Felixstow on the Suffolk coast, and as I run down on Saturday 
and come back on Monday your MS. has been kept longer than 


it should have been. I am quite agreed with the general tenor 
of your argument ; and indeed I have often argued against those 
who maintain the intellectual gulf between man and the lower 
animals to be an impassable one, by pointing to the immense 
intellectual chasm as compared to the structural differences 
between two species of bees or between sheep and goat or dog 
and wolf. So again your remarks upon the argument drawn 
from the apparent absence of progression in animals seem to 
me to be quite just. You might strengthen them much by refer- 
ence to the absence of progression in many races of men. The 
West African savage, as the old voyagers show, was in just the 
same condition two hundred years ago as now — ^and I suspect 
that the modern Patagbnian is as nearly as possible the unim- 
proved representative of the makers of the flint implements of 

Lyell's phrase is very good, but it is a simple application of 
Darwin's views to human history. The advance of mankind 
has ever)rwhere depended on the production of men of genius; 
and that production is a case of " spontaneous variation " be- 
coming hereditary, not by physical propagation, but by the help 
of language, letters and the printing press. Newton was to all 
intents and purposes a " sport " of a dull agricultural stock, and 
his intellectual powers are to a certain extent propagated by the 
grafting of the " Principia," his brain-shoot, on us. 

Many thanks for your letter. It is a great pleasure to me to 
be able to speak out to any one who, like yourself, is striving to 
get at truth through a region of intellectual and moral influences 
so entirely distinct from those to which I am exposed. 

I am not much given to open my heart to anybody, and on 
looking back I am often astonished at the way in which I threw 
myself and my troubles at your head, in those bitter days when 
my poor boy died. But the way in which you received my 
heathen letters set up a freemasonry between us, at any rate on 
my side ; and if they make you a bishop I advise you not to let 
your private secretary open any letters with my name in the 
corner, for they are as likely as not to contain matters which 
will make the clerical hair stand on end. 

I am too much a believer in Butler and in the great principle 
of the " Analogy " that " there is no absurdity in theology so 
great that you cannot parallel it by a greater absurdity of 
Nature" (it is not commonly stated in this way), to have any 
difficulties about miracles. I have never had the least sympathy 
with the a priori reasons against orthodoxy, and I have by 


nature and disposition the greatest possible antipathy to all the 
atheistic and infidel school. 

Nevertheless, I know that I am, in spite of myself, exactly 
what the Christian world call, and, so far as I can see, are justi- 
fied in calling, atheist and infidel. I cannot see one shadow or 
tittle of evidence that the great unknown underlying the phe- 
nomena of the universe stands to us in the relation of a Father 
— loves us and cares for us as Christianity asserts. On the con- 
trary, the whole teaching of experience seems to me to show 
that while the governance (if I may use the term) of the uni- 
verse is rigorously just and substantially kind and beneficent, 
there is no more relation of affection between governor and 
governed than between me and the twelve judges. I know the 
administrators of the law desire to do their best for every- 
body, and that they would rather not hurt me than other- 
wise, but I also know that under certain circumstances they 
will most assuredly hang me; and that in any case it would 
be absurd to suppose them guided by any particular affection 
for me. 

This seems to me to be the relation which exists between the 
cause of the phenomena of this universe and myself. I submit 
to it with implicit obedience and perfect cheerfulness, and the 
more because my small intelligence does not see how any other 
arrangement could possibly be got to work as the world is con- 

But this is what the Christian world calls atheism, and be- 
cause all my toil and pains does not enable me to see my way 
to any other conclusion than this, a Christian judge would (if 
he knew it) refuse to take my evidence in a court of justice 
against that of a Christian ticket-of-leave man. 

So with regard to the other great Christian dogmas, the im- 
mortality of the soul, and the future state of rewards and punish- 
ments, what possible objection a priori can I — ^who am com- 
pelled perforce to believe in the immortality of what we call 
Matter and Force and in a very unmistakable present state of 
rewards and punishments for all our deeds — ^have to these doc- 
trines ? Give me a scintilla of evidence, and I am ready to jump 
at them. 

But read Butler, and see to what drivel even his great mind 
descends when he has to talk about the immortality of the soul ! 
I have never seen an argument on that subject which from a 
scientific point of view is worth the paper it is written upon. 
All resolve themselves into this formula: — The doctrine of the 


immortality of the soul is very pleasant and very useful, there- 
fore it is true. 

All the grand language about ''human aspiration," "con- 
sistency with the divine justice," etc. etc., collapses into this at 
last — Better the misery of the " Vale 1 in aeternum vale ! " ten 
times over than the opium of such empty sophisms — I have 
drunk of that cup to the bottom. 

I am called away and must close my letter. Don't trouble 
to answer it unless you are so minded. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Jermvn Street, May 22, 1863. 

My dear Kingsley — Pray excuse my delay in replying to 
your letter. I have been very much pressed for time for these 
two or three days. 

First touching the action of the spermatozoon. The best 
information you can find on the subject is, I think, in Newport's 
papers in the Philosophical Transactions for 1851, 1853, and 
1854, especially the 1853 paper. Newport treats only of the 
Frog, but the information he gives is very full and definite. 
Allen Thomson's very accurate and learneci article " Ovum " 
in Todd's Cyclopcedia is also well worth looking through, though 
unfortunately it is least full just where you want most informa- 
tion. In French there is Coste's Developpement des Corps 
organises and the volume on " Development " by Bischoff in 
the French translation of the last edition of Soemmering's 

So much for your inquiries as to the matters of fact. Next, 
as to questions of speculation. If any expression of ignorance 
on my part will bring us nearer we are likely to come into 
absolute contact, for the possibilities of " may be " are, to me, 

I know nothing of Necessity, abominate the word Law (ex- 
cept as meaning that we know nothing to the contrary), and 
am quite ready to admit that there may be some place, " other 
side of nowhere," par exemple, where 2 + 2 = 5, and all bodies 
naturally repel one another instead of gravitating together. 

I don't know whether Matter is anything distinct from 
Force. I don't know that atoms are anything but pure myths. 
Cogito, ergo sum is to my mind a ridiculous piece of bad logic, 
all I can say at any time being "Cogito." The Latin form I 
hold to be preferable to the English " I think," because the latter 
asserts the existence of an Ego — about which the bundle of 


phenomena at present addressing you knows nothing. In fact, 
if I am pushed, metaphysical speculation lands me exactly where 
your friend Raphael was when his bitch pupped. In other 
words, I believe in Hamilton, Mansell and Herbert Spencer 
so long as they are destructive, and I laugh at their beards as 
soon as they try to spin their own cobwebs. 

Is this basis of ignorance broad enough for you? If you, 
theologian, can find as firm footing as I, man of science, do on 
this foundation of minus nought — there will be nought to fear 
for our ever diverging. 

For you see I am quite as ready to admit your doctrine that 
souls secrete bodies as I am the opposite one that bodies secrete 
souls — simply because I deny the possibility of obtaining any 
evidence as to the truth and falsehood of either hypothesis. My 
fundamental axiom of speculative philosophy is that materialism 
and spiritualism are opposite poles of the same absurdity — the 
absurdity of imagining that we know anything about either 
spirit or matter. 

Cabanis and Berkeley (I speak of them simply as types of 
schools) are both asses, the only difference being that one is a 
black donkey and the other a white one. 

This universe is, I conceive, like to a great game being 
played out, and we poor mortals are allowed to take a hand. 
By great good fortune the wiser among us have made out some 
few of the rules of the game, as at present played. We call 
them "Laws of Nature," and honour them because we find 
that if we obey them we win something for our pains. The 
cards are our theories and hypotheses, the tricks our experi- 
mental verifications. But what sane man would endeavour to 
solve this problem : given the rules of a game and the winnings, 
to find whether the cards are made of pasteboard or gold- 
leaf? Yet the problem of the metaphysicians is to my mind 
no saner. 

If you tell me that an Ape differs from a Man because the 
latter has a soul and the ape has not, I can only say it may be 
so; but I should unconmionly like to know how either that the 
ape has not one or that the man has. 

And until you satisfy me as to the soundness of your method 
of investigation, I must adhere to what seems to my mind a 
simpler form of notation — i.e. to suppose that all phenomena 
have the same substratum (if they have any), and that soul 
and body, or mental and physical phenomena, are merely diverse 
manifestations of that hypothetical substratum. In this way. 


it seems to me, I obey the rule which works so well in practice, 
of always making the simplest possible suppositions. 

On the other hand, if you are of a different opinion, and 
find it more convenient to call the x which underlies (hypothetic- 
ally) mental phenomena, Soul, and the x which tmderlies (hypo- 
thetically) physical phenomena. Body, well and good. The two- 
fluid theory and the one-fluid theory of electricity both ac- 
counted for the phenomena up to a certain extent, and both 
were probably wrong. So it may be with the theories that there 
is only one x in nature or two ^j or three ^j. 

For, if you will think upon it, there are only four possible 
ontological hypotheses now that Polytheism is dead. 

I. There is no jr = Atheism on Berkeleyan prin- 

II. There is only one x = Materialism or Pantheism, 

according as you turn it 
heads or tails. 
III. There are two s^s) ^ 1 . ^ j- 

Spin, and Malttr \ = Sp«"l«K"» •«"•'« "■'"• 

"''■ ■^S;S„.rMa«^ h°'*''^» ^'°^'»- 

To say that I adopt any one of those hypotheses, as a repre- 
sentation of fact, would to my mind be absurd; but No. 2 is the 
one I can work with best. To return to my metaphor, it chimes 
in better with the rules of the game of nature than any other 
of the four possibilities, to my mind. 

But who knows when the great Banker may sweep away 
table and cards and all, and set us learning a new game ? What 
will become of all my poor counters then? It may turn out 
that I am quite wrong, and that there are no 3^s or 20 3^s, 

I am glad you appreciate the rich absurdities of the new doc- 
trine of spontogenesis [?]. Against the doctrine of spontane- 
ous generation in the abstract I have nothing to say. Indeed it 
is a necessary corollary from Darwin's views if legitimately car- 
ried out, and I think Owen smites him (Darwin) fairly for 
taking refuge in " Pentateuchal " phraseology when he ought 
to have done one of two things — (a) give up the problem, (6) 
admit the necessity of spontaneous generation. It is the very 
passage in Darwin's book to which, as he knows right well, I 
have always strongly objected. The x of science and the x of 
genesis are two different :^s, and for any sake don't let us con- 
fuse them together. Maurice has sent me his book. I have 

264 Llf^ OF PROFXSSOR HUXLEY chap, xm 

read it, bat I fiod iii3rself otterlj at a loss to cofiii>rebciid his 
point of view. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

The following letter is interesting, as showing his con- 
tinued interest in the question of skull structure, as well as 
his relation to his friend and fellow-worker. Dr. \V. K. 

JE&MYN Steeet, March 18, 1863. 

My deak Parkei — ^Any conclusion that I have reached will 
seem to me all the better based for knowing that you have been 
near or at it, and I am therefore right glad to have your letter. 
If I had only time, nothing would delight me more tfian to go 
over your preparations, but these Hunterian Lectures are about 
the hardest bit of work I ever took in hand, and I am obliged to 
give every minute to them. 

By and by I will ^^adly go with 3rou over your vast material. 

Did you not some time ago tell me that you considered the 
Y-shaped bone (so-called presphenoid) in the Pike to be the 
true iMisisphenoid ? If so, let me know before lecture to-morrow, 
that I may not commit theft unawares. 

I have arrived at that conclusion myself from the anatomical 
relations of the bone in question to the brain and nerves. 

I look upon the proposition opisthotis = turtle's "occipital 
extcmc " = Perch's Rocher (Cuvier) as the one thing needful 
to clear up the unity of structure of the bony cranium; and it 
shall be counted unto me as a great sin if I have helped to keep 
you back from it The thing has been dawning upon me ever 
since I read Kolliker's book two summers ago, but I have never 
had time to work it out — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The following extracts from a letter to Hooker and a 

letter to Darwin describe the pressure of his work at this 



My dear Hooker — ... I would willingly send a paper to 
the Linnxan this year if I could, but I do not see how it is 
practicable. I lecture five times a week from now till the middle 
•of February. I then have to give eighteen lectures at the Coll. 
Surgeons — six on classification, and twelve on the vertebrate 
skeleton. I must write a paper on this new Glyptodon, with 
some eighteen to twenty plates. A preliminary notice has 
already gone to the Royal Society. I have a decade of fossil 


fish in progress ; a fellow in the country wUl keep on sending me 
splendid new Labyrinthodonts from the coal, and that d — d 
manual must come out. — Ayes pitii de moi, T. H. H. 

Jermyn Street, July 2, 1863. 

My dear Darwin — I am horribly loth to say that I cannot 
do anything you want done; and partly for that reason and 
partly because we have been very busy here with some new 
arrangements during the last day or two, I did not at once reply 
to your note. 

I am afraid, however, I cannot undertake any sort of new 
work. In spite of working like a horse (or if you prefer it, like 
an ass), I find myself scandalously in arrear, and I shall get into 
terrible hot water if I do not clear oflf some things that have 
been hanging about me for months and years. 

If you will send me up the specimens, however, I will ask 
Flower (whom I see constantly) to examine them for you. The 
examination will be no great trouble, and I am ashamed to make 
a fuss about it, but I have sworn a big oath to take no fresh 
work, great or small, until certain things are done. 

I wake up in the morning with somebody saying in my ear, 
** A is not done, and B is not done, and C is not done, and D is 
not done," etc., and a feeling like a fellow whose duns are all 
in the street waiting for him. By the way, you ask me what I 
am doing now, so I will just enumerate some of the A, B, and 
C*s aforesaid. 

A. Editing lectures on Vertebrate skull and bringing them 
out in the Medical Times, 

B. Editing and re-writing lectures on Elementary Physiolo- 
gy,* just delivered here and reported as I went along. 

C. Thinking of my course of twenty-four lectures on the 
Mammalia at Coll. Surgeons in next spring, and making investi- 
gations bearing on the same. 

D. Thinking of and working at a Manual of Comparative 
Anatomy (may it be d— d), which I have had in hand these 
seven years. 

* Delivered on Friday evenings from April to June at Jermyn 
Street, and reported in the Medical Times, They formed the basis of 
his well-known little book on Elementary Physiology, published 1866. 
He writes on April 22 : — " Macmillan has just been with me, and I 
am let in for a school book on physiology based on thi^se lectures of 
mine. Money arrangements not quite fixed yet, but he is a good fel- 
low, and will not do me unnecessarily." 


E. Getting heaps of remains of new Labyrinthodonts from 
the Glasgow coalfield, which have to be described. 

F. Working at a memoir on Glyptodon based on a new and 
almost entire specimen at the College of Surgeons. 

G. Preparing a new decade upon Fossil fishes for this place. 

H. Knowing that I ought to have written long ago a de- 
scription of a most interesting lot of Indian fossils sent to me 
by Oldham. 

I. Being blown up by Hooker for doing nothing for the 
Natural History Review, 

K. Being bothered by sundry editors just to write articles 
" which you know you can knock oflf in a moment." 

L. Consciousness of having left unwritten letters which 
ought to have been written long ago, especially to C. Darwin. 

M. General worry and botheration. Ten or twelve people 
taking up my time all day about their own affairs. 

N. O. P. Q. R. S. T. U. V. W. X. Y. Z. 



Dinners, evening parties, and all the apparatus for wasting 
time called " Society." Colensoism and botheration about 
•Moses. . . . Finally pestered to death in public and private be- 
cause I am supposed to be what they call a " Darwinian." 

If that is not enough, I could exhaust the Greek alphabet 
for heads in addition. 

I am glad to hear that Wyman thinks well of my book, as 
he is very competent to judge. I hear it is republished in 
America, but I suppose I shall get nothing out of it.* 

An undated letter to Kingsley, who had suggested that 
he should write an article on Prayer, belongs probably to 
the autumn of 1863 : — 

I should like very much to write such an article as you sug- 
gest, but I am very doubtful about undertaking it for Fraser. 
Anything I could say would go to the root of praying altogether, 
for inasmuch as the whole universe is governed, so far as I 
can see, in the same way, and the moral world is as much gov- 
erned by laws as the physical — ^whatever militates against asking 
for one sort of blessing seems to me to tell with the same force 
against asking for any other. 

* In this expectation, however, he was agreeably disappointed by 
the action of D. Appleton and Company, as is told on page 305. 


Not that I mean for a moment to say that prayer is illogical, 
for if the whole universe is ruled by fixed laws it is just as 
logically absurd for me to ask you to answer this letter as to 
ask the Almighty to alter the weather. The whole argument is 
an " old foe with a new face," the freedom and necessity ques- 
tion over again. 

. If I were to write about the question I should have to 
develop all this side of the problem, and then having shown 
that logic, as always happens when it is carried to extremes, 
leaves us bombinantes in vacuo, I should appeal to experience to 
show that prayers of this sort are not answered, and to science 
to prove that if they were they would do a great deal of harm. 

But you know this would never do for the atmosphere of 
Fraser. It would be much better suited for an article in my 
favourite organ, the wicked Westminster. 

However, to say truth, I do not see how I am to undertake 
anything fresh just at present. I have promised an article for 
MacmiUan ages ago; and Masson scowls at me whenever we 
meet. I am afraid to go through the Albany lest Cook should 
demand certain reviews of books which have been long in my 
hands. I am just completing a long memoir for the Linnean 
Society; a monograph on certain fossil reptiles must be finished 
before the new year. My lectures have begun, and there is a 
certain " Manual '' looming in the background. And to crown 
all, these late events * have given me such a wrench that I feel 
I must be prudent. 

The following reference to Robert Lowe, afterwards 
Lord Sherbrooke, has a quasi-prophetic interest : — 

May 7. — Dined at the Smiths* f last night. Lowe was to 
have been there, but had a dinner-party of his own. ... I have 
come to the conviction that our friend Bob is a most admirable, 
well-judging statesman, for he says I am the only man fit to 
be at the head of the British Museum, X and that if he had his 
way he would put me there. 

Years afterwards, on Sir R. Owen's retirement, he was 
offered the post, but declined it, as he greatly disliked the 
kind of work. At the same time, he pointed out to the 

♦ The death of his brother. 

f Dr. (afterwards Sir William) Smith, of dictionary fame. 

} 1./. of the Natural History Collections. 


Minister who made the offer that the man of all others' for 
the post would be the late distinguished holder of it, Sir W. 
H. Flower, a suggestion happily acted on. 

Early in August a severe loss befell him in the sudden 
death of his brother George, who had been his close friend 
ever since he had returned from Australia, who had given 
him all the help and sympathy in his struggles that could 
be given by a man of the world without special interests in 
science or literature. With brilliancy enough to have won 
success if he had had patience to ensure it, he was. not only 
a pleasant companion, a '' clubbable man " in Johnson's 
phrase, but a friend to trust. The two households had seen 
much of one another; the childless couple regarded their 
brother's children almost as their own. Thus a real gap 
was made in the family circle, and the trouble was not 
lessened by the fact that George Huxley's affairs were left 
in great confusion, and his brother not only spent a g^eat 
deal of time in looking after the interests of the widow, but 
took upon himself certain obligations in order to make 
things straight, with the result that he was even compelled 
to part with his Royal Medal, the gold of which was worth 


The year 1864 was much like 1863. The Hunterian 
Lectures were still part of his regular work. The Fishery 
Commission claimed a large portion of his time. From 
March 28 to April 2 he was in Cornwall; on May 7 at 
Shoreham ; from July 24 to September 9 visiting the coasts 
of Scotland and Ireland. The same pressure of work con- 
tinued. He published four papers on paleontological or 
anatomical subjects in the Natural History Review,* he 
wrote " Further Remarks upon the Human Remains from 
the Neanderthal," and later (see pp. 273 and 288), dealing 
with " Criticisms on the Origin of Species " (Collected Essays 
II. p. 80, " Darwiniana "), he gently but firmly dispersed 
several misconceptions of his old friend Kolliker as to the 
plain meaning of the book; and ridiculed the pretentious 
ignorance of M. Flourens' dicta upon the same subject; 
while in the winter he delivered a course of lectures to 
workingmen on " The Various Races of Mankind," a choice 
of subject which shows that his chief interest at that time 
lay in Ethnology. 

Jermyn Street, /an. 16, 1864. 

My dear Darwin — I have had no news of you for a long 
time, but I earnestly hope you are better. 

Have you any objection to putting your name to Flower's 
certificate for the Royal Society herewith inclosed? It will 

* On ** Cetacean Fossils termed Ziphius by Cuvier," in the Trans- 
actions of the Geological Society ; in those of the Zoological^ papers on 
**Arctocebus Calabarensis *' and **the Structure of the Stomach in 
Desmodus Rufus** ; and on the ** Osteology of the Genus Glyptodon," 
in the Phil. Trans. 




please him much if you will ; and I go bail for his being a thor- 
oughly good man in all senses of the word — which, as you know, 
is more than I would say for everybody. 

Don't write any reply; but Mrs. Darwin perhaps will do 
me the kindness to send the thing on to Lyell as per enclosed 
envelope. I will write him a note about it. 

We are all well, barring customary colds and various forms 
of infantile pip. As for myself, I am flourishing like a green 
bay tree (appropriate comparison, Soapy Sam would observe), 
in consequence of having utterly renounced societies and society 
since October. 

I have been working like a horse, however, and shall work 
"horser" as my college lectures begin in February. — Tout d 
vous, T. H. Huxley. 

Royal School of Mines, 
Jermyn Street, ApH/ 18, 1864. 

My dear Darwin — I was rejoiced to see your handwriting 
again, so much so that I shall not scold you for undertaking the 
needless exertion (as it's my duty to do) of writing to thank me 
for my book.* 

I thought the last lecture would be nuts for you, but it is 
really shocking. There is not the smallest question that Owen 
wrote both the article " Oken " and the Archetype Book, which 
appeared in its second edition in French — why, I know not. I 
think that if you will look at what I say again, there will not 
be much doubt left in your mind as to the identity of the writer 
of the two. 

The news you g^ve of yourself is most encouraging; but pray 
don't think of doing any work again yet. Careful as I have been 
during this last winter not to burn the candle at both ends, I 
have found myself, since the pressure of my lectures ceased, in 
considerable need of quiet, and I have been lazy accordingly. 

I don't know that I fear, with you, caring too much for sci- 
ence — for there are lots of other things I should like to go into 
as well, but I do lament more and more as time goes on, the 
necessity of becoming more and more absorbed in one kind of 
work, a necessity which is created for any one in my position, 
partly by one's reputation, and partly by one's children. For 
directly a man gets the smallest repute in any branch of science, 
the world immediately credits him with knowing about ten 

* Hunterian Lectures on Anatomy, 


times as much as he really does, and he becomes bound in com- 
mon honesty to do his best to climb up to his reputed place. And 
then the babies are a devouring fire, eating up the present and 
discounting the future ; they are sure to want all the money one 
can earn, and to be the better for all the credit one can win. 

However, I should fare badly without the young monkeys. 
Your pet Marian is almost as shy as ever, though she has left 
off saying " can't," by the way. 

My wife is wonderfully well. As I tell her, Providence has 
appointed her to take care of me when I am broken down and 

I hope you can say as much of Mrs. Darwin. Pray give her 
my kind regards. — And believe me, ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

A letter to his sister gives a sketch of his position at 
this time, speaking of which he says to Dr. (afterwards Sir 
J.) Fayrer, " You and I have travelled a long way, in all 
senses, since you settled my career for me on the steps of 
the Charing Cross Hospital." It must be remembered that 
his sister was living in Tennessee, and that her son at fifteen 
was serving in the Confederate army. 

Jermyn Street,- 4/5/64. 

You will want to know something about my progress in the 
world. Well, at this moment I am Professor of Natural History 
here, and Hunterian Professor of Comparative Anatomy at the 
College of Surgeons. The former is the appointment I have held 
since 1855; the latter chair I was asked to take last year, and 
now I have delivered two courses in that famous black gown 
with the red facings which the doctor will recollect very well. 
What with the duties of these two posts and other official and 
non-official business, I am worked to the full stretch of my 
powers, and sometimes a little beyond them; though hitherto 
I have stood the wear and tear very well. 

I believe I have won myself a pretty fair place in science, 
but in addition to that I have the reputation (of which, I fear, 
you will not approve) of being a great heretic and a savage 
controversialist always in rows. To the accusation of heresy 
I fear I must plead guilty ; but the second charge proceeds only, 
I do assure you, from a certain unconquerable hatred of lies 
and humbug which I cannot get over. 



I have read all you tell me about the south with much in- 
terest and with the warmest sympathy, so far as the fate of the 
south affects you. But I am in the condition of most thoughtful 
Englishmen. My heart goes with the south, and my head with 
the north. 

I have no love for the Yankees, and I delight in the energy 
and self-sacrifice of your people ; but for all that, I cannot doubt 
that whether you beat the Yankees or not, you are struggling 
to uphold a system which must, sooner or later, break down. 

I have not the smallest sentimental sympathy with the negro ; 
don't believe in him at all, in short. But it is clear to me that 
slavery means, for the white man, bad political economy; bad 
social morality; bad internal political organisation, and a bad 
influence upon free labour and freedom all over the world. For 
the sake of the white man, therefore, for your children and 
grandchildren, directly, and for mine, indirectly, I wish to see 
this system ended.* Would that the south had had the wisdom 
to initiate that end without this miserable war ! 

All this must jar upon you sadly, and I grieve that it does 
so ; but I could not pretend to be other than I am, even to please 
you. Let us agree to differ upon this point. If I were in your 
place I doubt not I should feel as you do ; and, when I think of 
you, I put myself in your place and feel with you as your brother 
Tom. The learned gentleman who has public opinions for which 
he is responsible is another "party" who walks about in T*s 
clothes when he is not thinking of his sister. 

If this were not my birthday I should not feel justified in 
taking a morning's holiday to write this long letter to you. The 
ghosts of undone pieces of work are dancing about me, and I 
must come to an end. 

Give my love to your husband. I am glad to hear he wears 
so well. And don't forget to give your children kindly thoughts 
of their uncle. Dr. Wright g^ves a great account of my name- 
sake, and says he is the handsomest youngster in the Southern 
States. That comes of his being named after me, you know 
how renowned for personal beauty I always was. 

I asked Dr. Wright if you had taken to spectacles, and he 
seemed to think not. I had a pain about my eyes a few months 

♦ Cf. Reader^ February 27 onwards, where these general arguments 
against slavery appear in a controversy arising from his ninth Hun- 
terian Lecture, in which, while admitting negro inferiority, he refutes 
those who justify slavery on the ground that physiologically the 
negro is very low in the scale. 


ago, but I found spectacles made this rather worse and left 
them off again. However, I do catch myself holding a news- 
paper further off than I used to do. 

Now don't let six months go by without writing again. If 
our little venture succeeds this time, we shall send again.* — 
Ever, my dearest Lizzie, your affectionate brother, 

T. H. Huxley. 

He writes to his wife, who had taken the children to 
Margate : — 

Sept. 22. — I am now busy over a paper for the Zool. Soc. ; 
after that there is one for the Ethnological which was read last 
session though not written. . . . Don't blaspheme about going 
into the bye- ways. They are both in the direct road of the 
book, only over the hills instead of going over the beaten path. 

Oct, 6. — I heard from Darwin last night jubilating over an 
article of mine which is published in the last number of the 
Nai, Hist. Review, and which he is immensely pleased with. . . . 
My lectures tire me, from want of practice, I suppose. I shall 
soon get into swing. 

The article in question was the " Criticisms of the Origin 
of Species/' of which he writes to Darwin : — 

Jermyn Street, Oct. 5, 1864. 

My dear Darwin — I am very glad to see your handwriting 
(in ink) again, and none the less on account of the pretty words 
into which it was shaped. 

It is a great pleasure to me that you like the article, for it 
was written very hurriedly, and I did not feel sure when I had 
done that I had always rightly represented your views. 

Hang the two scalps up in your wigwam ! 

Flourens I could have believed anything of, but how a man 
of Kolliker's real intelligence and ability could have so mis- 
understood the question is more than I can comprehend. 

It will be a thousand pities, however, if any review inter- 
feres with your saying something on the subject yourself. Un- 
less it should give you needless work I heartily wish you would. 

Everybody tells me I am looking so exceedingly well that I 
am ashamed to say a word to the contrary. But the fact is, I 
get no exercise, and a great deal of bothering work on our Com- 

* i.e, a package of various presents to the family. 



mission's Cruise; and though much fatter (indeed a regular 
bloater myself), I am not up to the mark. Next year I will 
have a real holiday.* 

I am a bachelor, my wife and belongings being all at that 
beautiful place, Margate. When I came back I found them all 
looking so seedy that I took them off bag and baggage to that, 
as the handiest place, before a week was over. They are won- 
derfully improved already, my wife especially being abundantly 
provided with her favourite east wind. Your godson is growing 
a very sturdy fellow, and I begin to puzzle my head with think- 
ing what he is and what he is not to be taught. 

Please to remember me very kindly to Mrs. Darwin, and 

believe me, yours very faithfully, _, _^ ,, 

^ T. H. Huxley. 

The following illustrates the value he set upon public 
examinations as to a practical means for spreading scientific 
education, and upon first-rate examiners as a safeguard of 
proper methods of teaching. 

Oct, 6, 1864. 

My dear Hooker — Donnelly told me to-day that you had 
been applied to by the Science and Tarts Department to examine 
for them in botany, and that you had declined. 

Will you reconsider the matter ? I have always taken a very 
great interest in the science examinations, looking upon them, as 
I do, as the most important engine for forcing science into ordi- 
nary education. 

The English nation will not take science from above, so it 
must get it from below. 

Having known these examinations from the beginning, I 
can assure you that they are very genuine things, and are work- 
ing excellently. And what I have regretted from the first is 
that the botanical business was not taken in hand by you, instead 
of by . 

Now, like a good fellow, think better of it. The papers are 
necessarily very simple, and one of Oliver's pupils could look 
them over for you. Let us have your co-operation and the 
advantage of that reputation for honesty and earnestness which 
you have contrived (Heaven knows how) to get. 

I have come back fat and seedy for want of exercise. All 

♦ At the end of the year, as so often, he went ofif for a ploy with 
Tyndall, this time into Derbyshire, walking vigorously over the moors. 


my belongings are at Margate. Hope you don't think my review 
of Darwin's critics too heretical if you have seen it. — Ever ydurs 

*'''*^"''y' T. H. Huxley. 

When is our plan for getting some kind of meetings during 
the winter to be organised ? 

The next two letters refer to the award of the Copley 
Medal to Mr. Darwin. Huxley was exceedingly indignant 
at an attempt on the part of the president to discredit the 
Origin by a side wind : — 

Jerb^yn Street, JS^ov. 4, 1864. 

My dear Darwin — I write two lines which are not to be 
answered, just as to say how delighted I am at the result of the 
doings of the Council of the Royal Society yesterday. Many of 
us were somewhat doubtful of the result, and the more ferocious 
sort had beg^n to whet their beaks and sharpen their claws in 
preparation for taking a very decided course of action had there 
been any failure of justice this time. But the affair was settled 
by a splendid majority, and our ruffled feathers are smoothed 

Your well-won reputation would not have been lessened by 
the lack of the Copley, but it would have been an indelible re- 
proach to the Royal Society not to have given it you, and a 
good many of us had no notion of being made to share that 

But quite apart from all these grand public-spirited motives 
and their results, you ought as a philanthropist to be rejoiced in 
the great satisfaction the award has given to your troops of 
friends, to none more than my wife (whom I woke up to tell 
the news when I got home late last night). — Yours ever, 

T. H. HyxLEY. 

Please remember us kindly to Mrs. Darwin, and make our 
congratulations to her on owning a Copley medallist. 

Jermyn Street, Dec. 3, 1864. 
My dear Hooker — I wish you had been at the Anniversary 
Meeting and Dinner, because the latter was very pleasant, and 
the former, to me, very disagreeable. My distrust of Sabine is 
as you know chronic, and I went determined to keep careful 
watch on his address, lest some crafty phrase injurious to Dar- 
win should be introduced. My suspicions were justified. The 


only part of the address to Darwin written by Sabine himself 
contained the following passage: — 

" Speaking generally apd collectively, we have expressly 
omitted it (Darwin's theory) from the grounds of our award." 

Of course this would be interpreted by everybody as mean- 
ing that, after due discussion, the council had formally resolved 
not only to exclude Darwin's theory from the grounds of the 
award, but to g^ve public notice through the president that they 
had done so, and furthermore, that Darwin's friends had been - 
base enough to accept an honour for him on the understanding 
that in receiving it he should be publicly insulted! 

I felt that this would never do, and therefore when the 
resolution for printing the address was moved, I made a speech 
which I took care to keep perfectly cool and temperate, disavow- 
ing all intention of interfering with the liberty of the president 
to say what he pleased, but exercising my constitutional right 
of requiring the minutes of council making the award to be 
read, in order that the Society might be informed whether the 
conditions implied by Sabine had been imposed or not. 

The resolution was read, and of course nothing of the kind 
appeared. Sabine didn't exactly like it, I believe. Both Busk 
and Falconer remonstrated against the passage to him, and I 
hope it will be withdrawn when the address is printed.* 

If not there will be an awful row, and I for one will show 
no mercy. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

The foundation of the x Club towards the end of 1864 
was a notable event for Huxley and his circle of scientific 
friends. It was growing more and more difficult for them 
to see one another except now and again at meetings of the 
learned societies, and even that was quite uncertain. The 
pressure of Huxley's own work may be inferred from his 
letters at this time (especially to Darwin, July 2, 1863, and 
January 16, 1864). Not only society, but societies had to 
be almost entirely given up. Moreover, the distance from 
one another at which some of these friends lived, added 
another difficulty, so that Huxley writes to Hooker in his 
" remote province " of Kew : " I wonder if we are ever to 
meet again in this world." Accordingly in January 1864, 

* The passage stands in the published address, but followed by 
another passage which softens it down. 

i864 THE X CLUB 277 

Hooker gladly embraced a proposal of Huxley's to organise 
some kind of regular meeting, a proposal which bore fruit 
in the establishment of the x Club. On November 3, 1864, 
the first meeting was held at St. George's Hotel, Albe- 
marle Street, where they resolved to dine regularly " except 
when Benham cannot have us, in which case dine at the 
Athenaeum." In the latter eighties, however, the Athenaeum 
became the regular place of meeting, and it was here that 
the " coming of age " of the club was celebrated in 1885. 

Eight members met at the first meeting; the second 
meeting brought their numbers up to nine by the addition 
of W. Spottiswoode, but the proposal to elect a tenth mem- 
ber was never carried out. On the principle of lucus a non 
lucendOy this lent an additional appropriateness to the sym- 
bol Xy the origin of which Huxley thus describes in his 
reminiscences of Tyndall in the Nineteenth Century for Janu- 
ary 1894: — 

At starting, our minds were terribly exercised over the name 
and constitution of our society. As opinions on this g^rave 
matter were no less numerous than the members — ^indeed more 
so— we finally accepted the happy suggestion of our mathema- 
ticians to call it the x Club; and the proposal of some genius 
among us, that we should have no rules, save the unwritten law 
not to have any, was carried by acclamation. 

Besides Huxley, the members of the club were as fol- 
lows : — 

George Busk, F.R.S. (1807-S7), then secretary of the 
Linnean Society, a skilful anatomist.* 

Edward Frankland (1825-1899), For. Sec. R.S., K.C.B., 
then Professor of Chemistry in the Royal Institution, and 
afterwards at the Royal College of Science. 

Thomas Archer Hirst, F.R.S., then mathematical master 
at University College School, f 

* He served as surgeon to the hospital ship Dreadnought at Green- 
wich tiil 1856, when he resigned, and. retiring from practice, devoted 
himself to scientific pursuits, and was elected President of the College 
of Surgeons in 1871. 

t In 1865 appointed Professor of Physics ; in 1867, of Pure Mathe- 
matics, at University College, London ; and from 1873 to 1883 Director 


Joseph Dalton Hooker, F.R.S., K.C.S.I., Pres. R.S. 
1873, the great botanist, then Assistant Director at Kew 
Gardens to his father. Sir. William Hooker. 

Sir John Lubbock, Bart., F.R.S., M.P., the youngest 
of the nine, who had already made his mark in archaeology, 
and was then preparing to bring out his Prehistoric Times. 

Herbert Spencer, who had already published Social 
Statistics, Principles of Psychology, and First Principles, 

William Spottiswoode (1825-1883), F.R.S., Treasurer 
and afterwards President R.S. 1878, who carried on the 
business of the Queen's printer as well as being deeply 
versed in mathematics, philosophy, and languages. 

John Tyndall, F.R.S. (1820-18193), who had been for the 
last eleven years Professor of Natural Philosophy at the 
Royal Institution, where he succeeded Faraday as super- 

The one object, then, of the club was to afford a certain 
meeting-ground for a few friends who were bound together 
by personal regard and community of scientific interests, yet 
were in danger of drifting apart under the stress of circum- 
stances. They dined together on the first Thursday in each 
month, except July, August, and September, before the 
meeting of the Royal Society, of which all were members 
excepting Mr. Spencer, the usual dining hour being six, so 
that they should be in good time for the society's meeting at 
eight; and a minute of December 5, 1885, when Huxley 
was treasurer and revived the ancient custom of making 
some note of the conversation, throws light on the habits 
of the club. " Got scolded," he writes, " for dining at 6.30. 
Had to prove we have dined at 6.30 for a long time by 
evidence of waiter. (At the February meeting, however, 
" agreed to fix dinner hour six hereafter.") Talked politics, 
scandal, and the three classes of witnesses — liars, d— — d 
liars, and experts. Huxley gave account of civil list pen- 
sion. Sat to the unexampled hour of 10 p.m., except Lub- 
bock who had to go to Linnaean." 

of Naval Studies at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich ; an oM Mar- 
burg student, and intimate friend of Tyndall, whom he had succeeded 
at Queenwood College in 1853. He died in 1892. 

1864 THE X CLUB 279 

For some time there was a summer meeting, which con- 
sisted of a week-end excursion of members and their wives 
(x's + yv's, as the correct formula ran) to some place like 
Burnham or Maidenhead, Oxford or Windsor; but this 
grew increasingly difficult to arrange, and dropped before 
very long. 

Guests were not excluded from the dinners of the club ; 
men of science or letters of almost every nationality dined 
with the X at one time or another ; Darwin, W. K. Clifford, 
Colenso, Strachey, Tollemache, Helps; Professors Bain, 
Masson, Robertson Smith, and Bentham the botanist, Mr. 
John Morley, Sir D. Galton, Mr. Jodrell, the founder of 
several scientific lectureships; Dr. Klein; the Americans 
Marsh, Oilman, A. Agassiz, and Youmans, the latter of 
whom met here several of the contributors to the Interna- 
tional Science Series organized by him; and continental 
representatives, as Helmholtz, Laugel, and Comu. 

Small as the club was, the members of it were destined 
to play a considerable part in the history of English science. 
Five of them received the Royal Medal ; three the Copley ; 
one the Rumford ; six were Presidents of the British Asso- 
ciation; three Associates of the Institute of France; and 
from amongst them the Royal Society chose a Secretary, 
a Foreign Secretary, a Treasurer, and three successive 

I think, originally (writes Huxley, Lc.) there was some 
vag^e notion of associating representatives of each branch of 
science; at any rate, the nine who eventually came together 
could have managed, among us, to contribute most of the articles 
to a scientific Encyclopaedia. 

They included leading representatives of half a dozen 
branches of science: — mathematics, physics, philosophy, 
chemistry, botany, and biology; and all were animated by 
similar ideas of the high function of science, and of the 
great Society which should be the chief representative of 
science in this country. However unnecessary, it was per- 
haps not unnatural that a certain jealousy of the club and 
its possible influence grew up in some quarters. But what- 
ever influence fell to it as it were incidentally — ^and earnest 


men with such opportunities of mutual understanding and 
such ideals of action could not fail to have some influence 
on the progress of scientific organization — it was assuredly 
not sectarian nor exerted for party purposes during the 
twenty-eight years of the club's existence. 

I believe that the x (continues Huxley) had the credit of 
being a sort of scientific caucus, or ring, with some people. In 
fact, two distinguished scientific colleagues of mine once car- 
ried on a conversation (which I g^ravely ignored) across me, 
in the smoking-room of the Athenaeum, to this effect, " I say, 
A., do you know anything about the x Club ? " " Oh yes, B., 
I have heard of it What do they do ? " " Well, they govern 
scientific affairs, and really, on the whole, they don't do it badly." 
If my good friends could only have been present at a few of our 
meetings, they would have formed a much less exalted idea of 
us, and would, I fear, have been much shocked at the sadly 
frivolous tone of our ordinary conversation. 

The X club is probably unique in the smallness of its 
numbers, the intellectual eminence of its members, and the 
length of its unchanged existence. The nearest parallel is to 
be found in " The Club." * Like the x, " The Club " bepn 
with eight members at its first meeting, and of the original 
members Johnson lived twenty years, Reynolds twenty- 
eight, Burke thirty-three, and Bennet Langton thirty-seven. 
But the ranks were earlier broken. Within ten years Gold- 
smith died, and he was followed in a twelvemonth by 
Nugent, and five years later by Beauclerk and Chamier. 
Moreover, the eight were soon increased to twelve ; then to 
twenty and finally to forty, while the gaps were filled up as 
they occurred. 

In the X, on the contrary, nearly nineteen years passed 
before the original circle was broken by the death of Spottis- 
woode. From 1864 to Spottiswoode's death in 1883 the 
original circle remained unbroken; the meetings "were 
steadily continued for some twenty years, before our ranks 
began to thin; and one by one, geistige Naturen such as 

* Of which Huxley was elected a member in 1884. Tyndall and 
Hooker were also members. 

i864 THE X CLUB 28 1 

those for which the poet * so willingly paid the ferryman, 
silent but not unregarded, took the vacated places." The 
peculiar constitution of the club scarcely seemed to admit 
of new members; not, at all events, without altering the 
unique relation of friendship joined to common experience 
of struggle and success which had lasted so long. After 
the death of Spottiswoode and Busk, and the ill-health of 
other members, the election of new members was indeed 
mooted, but the proposal was ultimately negatived. Hux- 
ley's opinion on this point appears from letters to Sir E. 
Frankland in 1886 and to Sir J. D. Hooker in 1888. 

As for the filling up the vacancies in the x, I am disposed to 
take Tyndairs view of the matter. Our little club had no very 
definite object beyond preventing a few men who were united by 
strong personal sympathies from drifting apart by the pressure 
of busy lives. 

Nobody could have foreseen or expected twenty odd years 
ago when we first met, that we were destined to play the parts 
we have since played, and it is in the nature of things impossible 
that any of the new members proposed (much as we may like 
and respect them all), can carry on the work which has so 
strangely fallen to us. 

An axe with a new head and a new handle may be the same 
axe in one sense, but it is not the familiar friend with which one 
has cut one's way through wood and brier. 

And in the other letter — 

What with the lame dog condition of T)mdall and Hirst and 
Spencer and my own recurrent illnesses, the x is not satisfactory. 
But I don't see that much will come from putting new patches 
in. The x really has no raison d'etre beyond the personal attach- 
ment of its original members. Frankland told me of the names 
that had been mentioned, and none could be more personally 
welcome to me . . . but somehow or other they seem out of 
place in the x. 

* Nimm dann Fuhrroann, 
Nimm die Miethe 
Die Ich gerne dreifach biete ; 
Zwei, die eben tiberfuhren 
Waren geistige Naturen. 


However, I am not going to stand out against the general 
wish, and I shall agree to anything that is desired. 

Again — 

The club has never had any purpose except the purely per- 
sonal object of bringing together a few friends who did not 
want to drift apart. It has happened that these cronies had 
developed into big-wigs of various kinds, and therefore the club 
has incidentally — ^I plight say accidentally — ^had a good deal 
of influence in the scientific world. But if I had to propose to 
a man to join, and he were to say. Well, what is your object? I 
should have to reply like the needy knife-grinder, " Object, 
God bless you, sir, we've none to show." 

As he wrote elsewhere (toe. cit.) : — 

Later on, there were attempts to add other members, which 
at last became wearisome, and had to be arrested by the agree- 
ment that no proposition of that kind should be entertained, 
unless the name of the new member suggested contained all 
the consonants absent from the names of the old ones. In the 
lack of Slavonic friends this decision put an end to the possi- 
bility of increase. 

After the death, in February 1892, of Hirst, a most 
devoted supporter of the club, who " would, I believe, repre- 
sent it in his sole person rather than pass the day over," 
only one more meeting took place, in the following month. 
With five of the six survivors domiciled far from town, 
meeting after meeting fell through, until the treasurer wrote, 
** My idea is that it is best to let it die out unobserved, and 
say nothing about its decease to anyone." 

Thus it came to pass that the March meeting of the 
club in 1893 remained its last. No ceremony ushered it 
out of existence. Its end exemplified a saying of Sir J. 
Hooker's, " At our ages clubs are an anachronism." It had 
met 240 times, yet, curious to say, although the average 
attendance up to 1883 was seven out of nine, the full 
strength of the club only met on twenty-seven occasions. 


The progress of the American civil war suggested to 
Huxley in 1865 the text for an article, " Emancipation, 
Black and White," the emancipation of the negro in Amer- 
ica and the emancipation of women in England, which ap- 
peared in the Reader of May 20 (Coll. Ess. iii. 66). His main 
argument for the emancipation of the negro was that al- 
ready given in his letter to his sister (p. 272) ; namely, that 
in accordance with the moral law that no human being can 
arbitrarily dominate over another without grievous damage 
to his own nature, the master will benefit by freedom more 
than the freed-man. And just as the negro will never take 
the highest places in civilisation yet need not to be confined 
to the lowest, so, he argues, it will be with women. " Na- 
ture's old salique law will never be repealed, and no change 
of dynasty will be effected," although " whatever argument 
justifies a given education for all boys justifies its applica- 
tion to girls as well." 

With this may be compared his letter to the Titptes of 
July 8, 1874 (Chapter XXVH). 

No scientific monographs were published in 1865 by 
Huxley, but his lectures of the previous winter to working- 
men on " The Various Races of Mankind " are an indication 
of his continued interest in Ethnology, which, set going, as 
has been said, by the promise to revise the woodcuts for 
Lyell's book, found expression in such papers as the 
" Human Remains in the Shell Mounds," 1863 ; the 
"Neanderthal Remains" of 1864; the "Methods and 
Results of Ethnology" of 1865; his FuUerian Lectures of 




1866-67 ; papers on " Two Widely Contrasted Forms of 
the Human Cranium " of 1866 and 1868; the " Patagonian 
Skulls" of 1868; and "Some Fixed Points in British 
Ethnology " of 1871— 

His published ethnological papers (says Sir Michael Foster) 
are not numerous, nor can they be taken as a measure of his in- 
fluence on this branch of study. In many ways he has made 
himself felt, not the least by the severity with which on the one 
hand he repressed the pretensions of shallow persons who, tak- 
ing advantage of the glamour of the Darwinian doctrine, talked 
nonsense in the name of anthropological science, and on the 
other hand, exposed those who in the structure of the brain or 
of other parts, saw an impassable gulf between man and the 
monkey. The episode of the " hippocampus " stirred for a while 
not only science but the general public. He used his influence, 
already year by year growing more and more powerful, to keep 
the study of the natural history of man within its proper lines, 
and chiefly with this end in view held the Presidential Chair 
of the Ethnological Society in 1869-70. It was mainly through 
his influence that this older Ethnological Society was, a year 
later, in 187 1, amalgamated with a newer rival society, the 
Anthropological, under the title of "The Anthropological In- 

During this time he was constantly occupied with 
paleontological work, as the following letter to Sir C. 
Lyell indicates — 

Jermyn Street, JSTov, 27, 1865. 

My dear Sir Charles — I returned last night from a hasty 
journey to Ireland, whither I betook myself on Thursday night, 
being attracted vulture-wise by the scent of a quantity of car- 
boniferous corpses. The journey was as well worth the trouble 
as any I ever undertook, seeing that in a morning's work I 
turned out ten genera of vertebrate animals of which five are 
certainly new ; and of these four are Labyrinthodonts, amphibia 
of new types. These four are baptised Ophiderpeton, Lepter- 
peton, Ichthyerpeton, Keraterpeton. They all have ossified 
spinal columns and limbs. The special interest attaching to the 
two first is that they represent a type of Labyrinthodonts hitherto 
unknown, and corresponding with Siren and Amphiuma among 
living Amphibia. Ophiderpeton, for example, is like an eel, 
about three feet long with small fore legs and rudimentary 
hind ones. 


In the year of grace 1861, there were three genera of Eu- 
ropean carboniferous Labyrinthodonts known, Archegosaurus, 
Scleroceplus, Parabatrachus. 

The vertebral column of Archegosaurus was alone known, 
and it was in a remarkably imperfect state of ossification. Since 
that date, by a succession of odd chances, seven new genera 
have come into my hands, and of these six certainly have well- 
ossified and developed vertebral columns. 

I reckon there are now about thirty genera of Labyrintho- 
donts known from all parts of the world and all deposits. Of 
these eleven have been established by myself in the course of 
the last half-dozen years, upon remains which have come into 
my hands by the merest chance. 

Five and twenty years ago, all the world but yourself be- 
lieved that a vertebrate animal of higher organisation than a 
fish in the carboniferous rocks never existed. I think the whole 
story is not a bad comment upon negative evidence. 

/an. I, 1865. 

My dear Darwin — I cannot do better than write my first 
letter of the year to you, if it is only to wish you and yours your 
fair share (and more than your fair share, if need be) of good 
for the New Year. The immediate cause of my writing, how- 
ever, was turning out my pocket and finding therein an unan- 
swered letter of yours containing a scrap on which is a request 
for a photograph, which I am afraid I overlooked. At least I 
hope I did, and then my manners won't be so bad. I enclose the 
latest version of myself. 

I wish I could follow out your suggestion about a book on 
zoology. (By the way please to tell Miss Emma that my last 
book is a book.* Marry come up I Does her ladyship call it a 

But I assure you that writing is a perfect pest to me unless 
I am interested, and not only a bore but a very slow process. I 
have some popular lectures on Physiology,f which have been 

* The first volume of his Hunterian Lectures on Comparative Anat- 
omy, A second volume never appeared. Miss Darwin, as her father 
wrote to Huxley after the delivery of his Working Men's Lectures in 
1862, ** was reading your Lectures, and ended by saying, *I wish he 
would write a book.* I answered, * he has just written a great book 
on the skull.' * I don't call that a book,' she replied, and added, * I 
want something that people can read ; he does write so well.'" 

t See letter of April 22, 1863. 


half done for more than a twelvemonth, and I hate the sight of 
them because the subject no longer interests me, and my head is 
full of other matters. 

So I have just done giving a set of lectures to working-men 
on " The Various Races of Mankind/' which really would make 
a book in Miss Emma's sense of the word, and which I have had 
reported. But when am I to work them up ? Twenty- four Hun- 
terian Lectures loom between me and Easter. I am dying to get 
out the second volume of the book that is not a book, but in vain. 

I trust you are better, though the last news I had of you 
from Lubbock was not so encouraging as I could have wished. 

With best wishes and remembrances to Mrs. Darwin — Ever 
yours, T. H. Huxley. 

Thanks for " fin Darwin," I had it 

26 Abbey Place, Jan, 15, 1865. 

My dear Darwin — Many thanks for Deslongchamps' paper 
which I do not possess. 

I received another important publication yesterday morning 
in the shape of a small but hearty son, who came to light a little 
before six. The wife is getting on capitally, and we are both 
greatly rejoiced at having another boy, as your godson ran great 
risks of being spoiled by a harem of sisters. 

The leader in the Reader is mine, and I am glad you like it. 
The more so as it has got me into trouble with some of my 
friends. However, the revolution that is going on is not to be 
made with rose-water. 

I wish if anything occurs to you that would improve the 
scientific part of the Reader, you would let me know as I am in 
great measure responsible for it 

I am sorry not to have a better account of your health. 
With kind remembrances to Mrs. Darwin and the rest of your 
circle — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Jermyn Street, May i, 1865. 
My dear Darwin — I send you by this post a booklet ♦ none 
of which is much worth your reading, while of nine-tenths of it 
you may say as the man did who had been trying to read John- 
son's Dictionary, "that the words were fine, but he couldn't 
make much of the story." 

♦Probably **A Catalogue of the Collection of Fossils in the 
Museum of Practical Geology," etc. 


But perhaps the young lady who has been kind enough to 
act as taster of my books heretofore will read the explanatory 
notice, and give me her ideas thereupon (always recollecting 
that almost the whole of it was written in the pre-Darwinian 

I do not hear very good accounts of you — ^to my sorrow — 
though rumours have reached me that the opus magnum* is 
completely developed though not yet bom. 

I am grinding at the mill and getting a little tired. My 
belongings flourishing as I hope you are. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

Jermvn Street, May 89, 1865. 

My dear Darwin — I meant to have written to you yesterday 
to say how glad I shall be to read whatever you like to send me. 
• I have to lecture at the Royal Institution this week, but 
after Friday, my time will be more at my own disposal than 
usual; and as always I shall be most particularly glad to be of 
any use to you. 

Any glimmer of light on the question you speak of is of the 
utmost importance, and I shall be immensely interested in learn- 
ing your views. And of course I need not add I will do my best 
to upset them. That is the nature of the beast. 

I had a letter from one of the ablest of the younger zoologists 
of Germany, Haeckel, the other day, in which this passage 
occurs : — 

"The Darwinian Theory, the establishment and develop- 
ment of which is the object [of] all my scientific labours, has 
gained ground immensely in Germany (where it was at first 
so misunderstood) during the last two years, and I entertain 
no doubt that it will before long be everywhere victorious." 
And he adds that I dealt far too mildly with Kolliker. 

With kindest remembrances to Mrs. Darwin and your family 
— Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

This year, as is seen from the foregoing, he was again 
in direct communication with Professor Ernst Haeckel of 
Jena, the earliest and strongest champion of Darwinian 
ideas in Germany. The latter wished to enlarge his ob- 
servations by joining some English scientific expedition, if 
any such were in preparation, but was dissuaded by the fol- 

* On Pangenesis, 


lowing reply. The expected book of Darwin's was the 
Pangenesis, and this is also referred to in the three succeed- 
ing letters to Darwin himself. 

The Royal School of Mines, 
Jermyn Street, London, /««^ 7, 1865. 

My dear Sir — Many thanks for your letter, and for the wel- 
come present of your portrait, which I shall value greatly, and 
in exchange for which I enclose my own. Indeed I have delayed 
writing to you in order to be able to send the last " new and im- 
proved " edition of myself. 

I wish it were in my power to help you to any such appoint- 
ment as that you wish for. But I do not think our government 
is likely to send out any scientific expedition to the South Seas. 
There is a talk about a new Arctic expedition, but I doubt if 
it will come to much, and even if it should be organised I couTd 
not recommend your throwing yourself away in an undertaking 
which promises more frost-bites than anything else to a natu- 

In truth, though I have felt and can still feel the attraction of 
foreign travel in all its strength, I would counsel you to stop at 
home, and as Gk)ethe says, find your America here. There are 
plenty of people who can observe and whose places, if they are 
expended by fever or shipwreck, can be well enough filled up. 
But there are very few who can grapple with the higher prob- 
lems of science as you have done and are doing, and we cannot 
afford to lose you. It is the organisation of knowledge rather 
than its increase which is wanted just now. And I think you 
can help in this great undertaking better in Germany than in 
New Zealand. 

Darwin has been very ill for more than a year past, so ill, in 
fact, that his recovery was at one time doubtful. But he con- 
trives to work in spite of fate, and I hope that before long we 
shall have a new book from him. 

By way of consolation I sent him an extract from your letter 
touching the progress of his views. 

I am glad that you did not think my critique of Kolliker too 
severe. He is an old friend of mine, and I desired to be as 
gentle as possible, while performing the unpleasant duty of 
showing how thoroughly he had misunderstood the question. 

I shall look with great interest for your promised book. 
Lately I have [been] busy with Ethnological questions, and I 
fear I shall not altogether please your able friend Professor 


Schleicher in some remarks I have had to make upon the sup- 
posed value of philological evidence. 

May we hope to see you at the meeting of the British Asso- 
ciation at Birmingham? It would give many, and especially 
myself, much pleasure to become personally acquainted with 
you. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Jermyn Street, /««^ i, 1865. 

My dear Darwin — ^Your MS.* reached me safely last 

I could not refrain from glancing over it on the spot, and I 
perceive I shall have to put on my sharpest spectacles and best 
considering cap. 

I shall not write till I have thought well on the whole sub- 
ject — Ever yours, T. H. Huxley. 

Jermyn Street, /k/k 16, 1865. 

My dear Darwin — I have just counted the pages of your 
MS. to see that they are all right, and packed it up to send you 
by post, registered, so I hope it will reach you safely. I should 
have sent it yesterday, but people came in and bothered me 
about post time. 

I did not at all mean by what I said to stop you from pub- 
lishing your views, and I really should not like to take that re- 
sponsibility. Somebody rummaging among your papers half a 
century hence will find Pangenesis and say, " See this wonderful 
anticipation of our modern theories, and that stupid ass Huxley 
preventing his publishing them." And then the Carlyleans of 
that day will make me a text for holding forth upon Uie differ- 
ence between mere vulpine sharpness and genius. 

I am not going to be made a horrid example of in that way. 
But all I say is, publish your views, not so much in the shape of 
formed conclusions, as of hypothetical developments of the only 
clue at present accessible, and don't give the Philistines more 
chances of blaspheming than you can help. 

I am very grieved to hear that you have been so ill again. — 
Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

26 Abbey Place, Oct. 2, 1865. 
My dear Darwin — " This comes hoping you are well," and 
for no other purpose than to say as much. I am just back from 
seven weeks' idleness at Littlehampton with my wife and chil- 

* Of Pangenesis, 


dren, die first time I have had a holiday of any extent with 
them for years. 

We are all flourishing — ^the babies particularly so— and I 
find myself rather loth to begin grinding at the mill again. 
There is a vein of laziness in me which crops out unconunonly 
strong in your godson, who is about the idlest, jolliest young 
four year old I know. 

You will have been as much grieved as I have been about 
dear old Hooker. According to the last accounts, however, he 
is mending, and I hope to see him in the pristine vigour again 
before long. 

My wife is gone to bed or she would join me in the kindest 
regards and remembrances to Mrs. Darwin and your family. — 
Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

The sound judgment and nice sense of honour for which 
Huxley was known among his friends often led those who 
were in difficulties to appeal to him for advice. About this 
time a dispute arose over an alleged case of unacknowledged 
** conveyance " of information. Writing to Hooker, he says 
the one party to the quarrel failed to " set the affair straight 
with half a dozen words of frank explanation as he might 
have done ; " as to the other, " like all quiet and mild men 
who do get a grievance, he became about twice as ' wud ' 
as Berserks like you and me." Both came to him, so that 
he says, " I have found it very difficult to deal honestly with 
both sides without betraying the confidence of either or 
making matters worse." Happily, with his help, matters 
reached a peaceful solution, and his final comment is — 

I don't mind fighting to the death in a good big row, but 
when A and B are supplying themselves from C's orchard, I 
don't think it is very much worth while to dispute whether B 
filled his pockets directly from the trees or indirectly helped 
himself to the contents of A's basket. If B has so helped him- 
self, he certainly ought to say so like a man, but if I were A, 
I would not much care whether he did or not 

has been horribly disgusted about it, but I am not sure 

the discipline may not have opened his eyes to new and useful 
aspects of nature. 

The summer of 1865 saw the inception of an educational 
experiment — ^an International Education Society — ^to which 


Huxley gladly gave his support as a step in the right direc- 
tion. He had long been convinced of the inadequacy of 
existing forms of education — survivals from the needs of a 
bygone age — ^to prepare for the new forms into which in- 
tellectual life was passing. That educators should be con- 
tent to bring up the . young generation in the modes of 
thought which satisfied their forefathers three centuries ago, 
as if no change had passed over the world since then, filled 
him with mingled amazement and horror. 

The outcome of the scheme was the International Col- 
lege, at Spring Grove, Isleworth, under the headmastership 
of Dr. Leonhard Schmitz ; one of the chief members of the 
committee being Dr. (afterwards Sir) William Smith, while 
at the head of the Society was Richard Cobden, under whose 
presidency it had been registered some time before. John 
Stuart Mill, however, refused to join, considering that this 
was not the most needed reform in education, and that he 
could not support a school in which the ordinary theology 
was taught. 

An article in the Reader for June 17, 1865, sketches the 
plan. The design was to give a liberal education to boys 
whether intended for a profession or for commerce. The 
education for both was the same up to a certain point, cor- 
responding to that given in our higher schools, together 
with foreign languages and the elements of physical and 
social science, after which the courses bifurcated.* Special 
stress was laid on modem languages, both for themselves 
and as a preparation and help for classical teaching. Ac- 
cordingly, the International College was one of three paral- 
lel institutions in England, France, and Germany, where a 
boy could in turn acquire a sound knowledge of all three 
languages while continuing the same course of education. 
The Franco-Prussian war of 1870, however, proved fatal to 
the scheme. 

Some letters to his friend Dr. W. K. Parker, f show the 

* For a fuller account of the scientific education see p. 330. 

f A man of whom he wrote (preface to Prof. Jeffery Parker's Li/f 
of W. JC. Parker^ 1893), that ** in him the genius of an artist struggled 
with that of a philosopher, and not unfrequently the latter got the 



good-fellowship which existed between them, as well as the 
interest he took in the style and success of Parker's work. 
Parker was hard at work on Birds, a subject in which his 
friend and leader also was deeply interested, and was in- 
deed preparing an important book upon it. 

Referring to his candidature for the Royal Society, he 
writes on February 21, 1865 : " With reference to your 
candidature, I am ready to bring your name forward when- 
ever you like, and to back you with * all my might, power, 
amity, and authority,' as Essex did Bacon (you need not 
serve me as Bacon did Essex afterwards), but my impres- 
sion has been that you did not wish to come forward this 

And on November 2, 1866, congratulating him on his 
" well-earned honour " of the F.R.S. — " Go on and prosper. 
These are not the things wise men work for; but it is not 
the less proper of a wise man to take them when they come 

26 Abbey Place, Dec, 3, 1865. 

My dear Parker — I have been so terribly pressed by my 
work that I have only just been able to finish the reading of 
your paper. 

Very few pieces of work which have fallen in my way come 
near your account of the Struthious skull in point of clearness 
and completeness. It is a most admirable essay, and will make 
an epoch in this kind of inquiry. 

I want you, however, to remodel the introduction, and to 
make some unessential but convenient difference in the arrange- 
ment of some of the figures. 

Secondly, full as the appendix is of most valuable and in- 
teresting matter, I advise you for the present to keep it back. 

My reason is that you have done justice neither to yourself 
nor to your topics, and that if the appendix is printed as it 
stands, your labour will be in great measure lost. 

You start subjects enough for half a dozen papers, and 
partly from the compression thus resulting, and partly from the 

worst of the contest." He speaks too of his ** minute accuracy In 
observation and boundless memory for details and imagination which 
absolutely rioted in the scenting out of subtle and often far-fetched 


absence of illustrations, I do not believe there are half a dozen 
men in Europe who will be able to follow you. Furthermore, 
though the appendix is relevant enough— every line of it — ^to 
those who have dived deep, as you and I have — to any one else 
it has all the aspects of a string of desultory discussions. As 
your father confessor, I forbid the publication of the appendix. 
After having had all this trouble with you I am not going to 
have you waste your powers for want of a little method, so I 
tell you. 

What you are to do is this. You are to rewrite the intro- 
duction and to say that the present paper is the first of a series 
on the structure of the vertebrate skull ; that the second will be 
" On the development of the osseous cranium of the Common 
Fowl " [and here (if you are good), I will permit you to intro- 
duce the episode on cartilage and membrane (illegible)]; the 
third will be " On the chief modifications of the cranium ob- 
served in the Sauropsida." 

The fourth, " On the mammalian skull." 
The fifth, " On the skull of the Ichthyopsida." 
I will give you two years from this time to execute these five 
memoirs; and then if you have stood good-temperedly the 
amount of badgering and bullying you will get from me when- 
ever you come dutifully to report progress, you shall be left to 
your own devices in the third year to publish a paper on " The 
general structure and theory of the vertebrate skull." 

You have a brilliant field before you, and a start such that no 
one is likely to catch you. Sit deliberately down over against 
the city, conquer it and make it your own, and don't be wasting 
powder in knocking down odd bastions with random shells. 

I write jestingly, but I really am very much in earnest. 
Come and have a talk on the matter as soon as you can, for I 
should send in my report. You will find me in Jermyn Street, 
Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday mornings, Thursday after- 
noon, but not Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon. Send a line 
to say when you will come. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley, 


Besides his Fullerian lectures on Ethnology at the 
Royal Institution this year, Huxley published in February 
1866 a paper in the Natural History Review, on the " Pre- 
historic Remains of Caithness," based upon a quantity of 
remains found the previous autumn at Keiss. This, and 
the article on the " Neanderthal Skull " in the Natural 
History Review for 1864, attracted some notice among for- 
eign anthropologists. Dr. H. Welcker writes about them ; 
Dr. A. Ecker wants the " Prehistoric Remains " for his 
new Archiv fUr Anthropologie ; the Societe d'Anthropologie 
de Paris elects him a Foreign Associate. 

He was asked by Dr. Fayrer to assist in a great scheme 
he had proposed to the Asiatic Society,* to gather men of 
every tribe from India, the Malayan Peninsula, Persia, Ara- 
bia, the Indian Archipelago, etc., for anthropological pur- 
poses. It was well received by the Council of the Society 
and by the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal ; anything Hux- 
ley could say in its favour would be of great weight Would 
he come out as Dr. Fayrer's guest ? 

Unable to go to Calcutta, he sent the following letter : — 

Jermyn Street, London, Jum 14^ 1866. 
My dear Fayrer — I lose no time in replying to your second 
letter, and my first business is to apologise for not having an- 
swered the first, but it reached me in the thick of my lectures, 
and like a great many other things which ought to have been 
done I put off replying to a more convenient season. I have 

* Comp. Chap. XXII. adinit and Appendix I. 


been terribly hard worked this year, and thought I was going 
to break down a few weeks ago but luckily I have pulled 

I heartily wish that there were the smallest chance of my 
being able to accept your kind invitation and take part in your 
great scheme at Calcutta. But it is impossible for me to leave 
England for more than six weeks or two months, and that only 
in the autumn, a time of year when I imagine Calcutta is not 
likely to be the scene of anything but cholera patients. 

As to your plan itself, I think it a most grand and useful one 
if it can be properly carried out. But you do things on so grand 
a scale in India that I suppose all the practical difficulties which 
suggest themselves to me may be overcome. 

It strikes me that it will not do to be content with a single 
representative of each tribe. At least four or five will be needed 
to eliminate the chances of accident, and even then much will 
depend upon the discretion and judgment of the local agent who 
makes the suggestion. This difficulty, however, applies chiefly if 
not solely to physical ethnology. To the philologer the oppor- 
tunities for comparing dialects and checking pronunciation will 
be splendid, however [few] the individual speakers of each dia- 
lect may be. The most difficult task of all will be to prevent the 
assembled Savans from massacring the " specimens " at the end 
of the exhibition for the sake of their skulls and pelves ! 

I am really afraid that my own virtue might yield if so 
tempted I 

Jesting apart, I heartily wish your plans success, and if there 
are any more definite ways in which I can help, let me know, 
and I will do my best. You will want, I should think, a physical 
and a philological committee to organise schemes : ( i ) for sys- 
tematic measuring, weighing, and portraiture, with observation 
and recording of all physical characters; and (2) for uniform 
registering of sounds by Roman letters and collection of vocabu- 
laries and grammatical forms upon an uniform system. 

I should advise you to look into the Museum of the Societe 
d' Anthropologic of Paris, and to put yourself in communication 
with M. Paul Broca, one of its most active members, who has 
lately been organising a scheme of general anthropological in- 
structions. But don't have anything to do with the quacks who 
are at the head of the "Anthropological Society" over here. 
If they catch scent of what you are about they will certainly 
want to hook on to you. 

Once more I wish I had the chance of being able to visit 


your congress. I have been lecturing on Ethnology this year,* 
and shall be again this year, and I would give a good deal to be 
able to look at the complex facts of Indian Ethnology with my 
own eyes. 

But as the sage observed, " what's impossible can't be," and 
what with short holidays — 3, wife and seven children — ^and miles 
of work in arrear, Inc^a is an impossibility for me. 

You say nothing about yourself, so I trust you are well and 
hearty, and all your belongings flourishing. — Ever yours faith- 
fully, T. H. Huxley. 

In paleontology he published this year papers on the 
" Vertebrate Remains from the Jarrow Colliery, Kilkenny;" 
on a new " Telerpeton from Elgin," and on some " Dino- 
saurs from South Africa." The latter, and many more after- 
wards, were sent over by a young man named Alfred Brown, 
who had a curious history. A Quaker gentleman came 
across him when employed in cleaning tools in Cirencester 
College, found that he was a good Greek and Latin scholar, 
and got him a tutorship in a clergyman's family at the Cape. 
He afterwards entered the postal service, and being inspired 
with a vivid interest in geology, spent all the leave he could 
obtain from his office on the Orange River in getting fossils 
from the Stormberg Rocks. These, as often as he could 
aflFord to send such weighty packages, he sent to Sir R. 
Murchison, to whom he had received a letter of introduction 
from his official superior. Sir Roderick, writing to Huxley, 
says " that he was proud of his new recruit," to whom he 
sent not only welcome words of encouragement, but the no 
less welcome news that the brother of his " discoverer," 
hearing of the facts from Professor Woodward, offered to 
defray his expenses so that he could collect regularly. 

On April 2 Huxley was in Edinburgh to receive the 
first academic distinction conferred upon him in Britain. 
He received the honorary degree of the University in com- 
pany with Tyndall and Carlyle. It was part of the fitness of 
things that he should be associated in this honour with his 
close friend Tyndall; but though he frequently acknowl- 

* As Fullerian Professor at the Royal Institution. 



edged his debt to Carlyle as the teacher who in his youth 
had inspired him with his undying hatred of shams and 
humbugs of every kind, and whom he had gratefully come 
to know in after days, Carlyle did not forgave the publica- 
tion of Man's Place in Nature, Years after, near the end 
of his life, my fathei* saw him walking slowly and alone 
down the opposite side of the street, and touched by his 
solitary appearance, crossed over and spoke to him. The 
old man looked at him, and merely remarking, " You're 
Huxley, aren't you ? the man that says we are all descended 
from monkeys," went on his way. 

On July 6 he writes to tell Darwin that he has lodged 
a memorial of his about the fossils at the Gallegos river, 
which was to be visited by the Nassau * exploring ship, 
with the hydrographer direct, instead of sending it in to 
the Lords of the Admiralty, who would only have sent it 
on to the hydrographer. This letter he heads " Country 
orders executed with accuracy and despatch." 

The following letter to Charles Kingsley explains 

Jermyn Street, Apri/ 12, 1866. 

My dear Kingsley — I shall certainly do myself the pleasure 
of listening to you when you preach at the Royal Institution. I 
wonder if you are going to take the line of showing up the super- 
stitions of men of science. Their name is legion, and the exploit 
would be a telling one. I would do it myself only I think I am 
already sufficiently isolated and unpopular. 

However, whatever you are going to do I am sure you will 
speak honestly and well, and I shall come and be assistant bottle- 

I am glad you like the working men's lectures. I suspect 
they are about the best things of that line that I have done, and 
I only wish I had had the sense to anticipate the run they have 
had here and abroad, and I would have revised them properly. 

As they stand they arc terribly in the rough, from a literary 
point of view. 

No doubt crib-biting, nurse-biting and original sin in general 
are all strictly reducible from Darwinian principles; but don't 
by misadventure run against any academical facts. 

* Chap. XXH. 


Some whales have all the cerebral vertebrae free now, and 
every one of them has the full number, seven, whether they are 
free or fixed. No doubt whales had hind legs once upon a time. 
If when you come up to town you go to the College of Surgeons, 
my friend Flower the Conservator (a good man whom you 
should know), will show you the whalebone whale's thigh bones 
in the grand skeleton they have recently set up. The legs, to be 
sure, and the feet are gone, the battle of life having left private 
Cetacea in the condition of a Chelsea pensioner. — Ever yours 
faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

This year the British Association met at Nottingham, 
and Huxley was president of Section D. In this capacity 
he invited Professor Haeckel to attend the meeting, but the 
impending war with Austria prevented any Prussian from 
leaving his country at the time, though Haeckel managed to 
come over later. 

Huxley did not deliver a regular opening address to the 
section on the Thursday, but on the Friday made a speech, 
which was followed by a discussion upon biology and its 
several branches, especially morphology and its relation to 
physiology (" the facts concerning form are questions of 
force, every form is force visible.") He lamented that the 
subdivisions of the section had to meet separately as a re- 
sult of specialisation, the reason for which he found in the 
want of proper scientific education in schools. And this 
was the fault of the universities, for just as in the story, 
" Stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, and so the old 
woman can't get home," science would not be taught in 
the schools until it is recognised by the universities. 

This prepared the way for Dean Farrar's paper on 
science teaching in the public schools. His experience as a 
master at Harrow made him strongly oppose the existing 
plan of teaching all boys classical composition whether they 
were suited for it or no. He wished to exchange a great 
deal of Latin verse-making for elementary science. 

This paper was doubly interesting to Huxley, as coming 
from a classical master in a public school, and he remarked, 
" He felt sure that at the present time, the important ques- 
tion for England was not the duration of her coal, but the 


due comprehension of the truths of science, and the labours 
of her scientific men." 

On the practical side, however, Mr. J. Payne said the 
great difficulty was the want of teachers; and suggested 
that if men of science were really in earnest they would 
condescend -to teach in the schools. 

It was to a certain extent in answer to this appeal that 
Huxley gave his lectures on Physiography in 1869 (see 
p. 331), and instituted the course of training for science 
teachers in 1871. 

He concluded his work at Nottingham by a lecture to 
working men. 

The following is in reply to Mr. Spencer who had ac- 
cused himself of losing his temper in an argument — 

26 Abbey Place, Sunday^ Nov, 8, 1868. 

My dear Spencer — ^Your conscience has been treating you 
with the most extreme and unjust severity. 

I recollect you looked rather savage at one point in our 
discussion, but I do assure you that you committed no overt 
act of ferocity ; and if you had, I think I should have fully de- 
served it for joining in the ferocious onslaught we all made 
upon you. 

What your sins may be in this line to other folk I don't 
know, but so far as I am concerned I assure you I have often 
said that I know no one who takes aggravated opposition better 
than yourself, and that I have not a few times been ashamed of 
the extent to which I have tried your patience. 

So you see that you have, what the Buddhists call a stock of 
accumulated merit, envers moi — and if you should ever feel 
inclined to " d n my eyes " you can do so and have a bal- 
ance left. 

Seriously, my old friend, you must not think it necessary to 
apologise to me about any such matters, but believe me 

(d ned or und d) — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

26 Abbey Place, Nov. ii, 1866. 

My dear Darwin — I thank you for the new edition of the 

Origin, and congratulate you on having done with it for a while, 

so as to be able to go on to that book of a portion of which I had 

a glimpse years ago. I hear good accounts of your health, in- 



deed the last was that you were so rampageous you meant to 
come to London and have a spree among its dissipations. May 
that be true. 

I am in the thick of my work, and have only had time to 
glance at your Historical Sketch, 

What an unmerciful basting you give " our mutual friend." 
I did not know he had put forward any claim I and even now 
that I read it black and white, I can hardly believe it 

I am glad to hear from Spencer that you are on the right 
(that is my) side in the Jamaica business. But it is wonderful 
how people who commonly act together are divided about it 

My wife joins with me in kindest wishes to Mrs. Darwin and 
yourself — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

You will receive an elementary physiology book, not for 
your reading but for Miss Darwin's. Were you not charmed 
with Haeckel? 

The " Jamaica business " here alluded to was Governor 
Eyre's suppression of a negro rising, in the course of which 
he had executed, under martial law, a coloured leader and 
member of the Assembly, named Gordon. The question of 
his justification in so doing stirred England profoundly. It 
became the touchstone of ultimate political convictions. 
Men who had little concern for ordinary politics, came for- 
ward to defend a great constitutional principle which they 
conceived to be endangered. A committee was formed to 
prosecute Governor Eyre on a charge of murder, in order to 
vindicate the right of a prisoner to trial by due process of 
law. Thereupon a counter-committee was organised for the 
defence of the man who, like Cromwell, judged that the 
people preferred their real security to forms, and had pre- 
sumably saved the white population of Jamaica by striking 
promptly at the focus of rebellion. 

The Pall Mall Gazette of October 29, 1866, made a 
would-be smart allusion to the part taken in the affair by 
Huxley, which evoked, in reply, a calm statement of his 
reasons for joining the prosecuting committee : — 

It is amusing (says the PaU Mall) to see how the rival com- 
mittees, the one for the prosecution and the other for the defence 
of Mr. Eyre, parade the names of distinguished persons who are 


enrolled as subscribers on either side. Mill is set against Car- 
lyle, and to counterbalance the adhesion of the Laureate to the 
Defence Fund, the Star hastens to announce that Sir Charles 
Lyell and Professor Huxley have given their support to the 
Jamaica Committee. Everything, of course, depends on the 
ground on which the subscriptions are given. One can readily 
conceive that Mr. Tennyson has been chiefly moved by a gener- 
ous indignation at the vindictive behaviour of the Jamaica Com- 
mittee. It would be curious also to know how far Sir Charles 
Lyeirs and Mr. Huxley's peculiar views on the development of 
species have influenced them in bestowing on the negro that 
sympathetic recognition which they are willing to extend even 
to the ape as '" a man and a brother." 

The reply appeared in the Pall Mall of October 31 : — 

Sir — I learn from yesterday evening's Pall Mall Gazette that 
you are curious to know whether certain " peculiar views on the 
development of species," which I am said to hold in the excellent 
company of Sir Charles Lyell, have led me to become a member 
of the Jamaica Committee. 

Permit me without delay to satisfy a curiosity which docs 
me honour. I have been induced to join that committee neither 
by my " peculiar views on the development of species," nor by 
any particular love for, or admiration of the negro— still less by 
any miserable desire to wreak vengeance for recent error upon 
a man whose early career I have often admired; but because 
the course which the committee proposes to take appears to me 
to be the only one by which a question of the profoundest prac- 
tical importance can be answered. That question is, Does the 
killing a man in the way Mr. Gordon was killed constitute mur- 
der in the eye of the law, or does it not? 

You perceive that this question is wholly independent of 
two others which are persistently confused with it, namely — 
was Mr. Gordon a Jamaica Hampden or was he a psalm-sing- 
ing fire-brand? and was Mr. Eyre actuated by the highest and 
noblest motives, or was he under the influence of panic-stricken 
rashness or worse impulses? 

I do not presume to speak with authority on a legal question ; 
but, unless I am misinformed, English law docs not permit good 
persons, as such, to strangle bad persons, as such. On the con- 
trary, I understand that, if the most virtuous of Britons, let his 
place and authority be what they may, seize and hang up the 
greatest scoundrel in Her Majesty's dominions simply because 


he is an evil and troublesome person, an English court of justice 
will certainly find that virtuous person guilty of murder. Nor 
will the verdict be affected by any evidence that the defendant 
acted from the best of motives, and, on the whole, did the State 
a service. 

Now, it may be that Mr. Eyre was actuated by the best of 
motives ; it tnay be that Jamaica is all the better for being rid of 
Mr. Gordon; but nevertheless the Royal Commissioners, who 
were appointed to inquire into Mr. Gordon's case, among other 
matters, have declared that: — 

The evidence, oral and documentary, appears to us to be 
wholly insufficient to establish the charge upon which the pris- 
oner took his trial. (Report, p. 37.) 

And again that they 

Cannot see in the evidence which has been adduced, any suf- 
ficient proof, either of his (Mr. Gordon's) complicity in the out- 
break at Morant Bay, or of his having been a party to any 
general conspiracy against the Government (Report, p. 38.) 

Unless the Royal Commissioners have greatly erred, there- 
fore, the killing of Mr. Gordon can only be defended on the 
ground that he was a bad and troublesome man; in short, that 
although he might not be guilty, it served him right. 

I entertain so deeply-rooted an objection to this method of 
killing people — the act itself appears to me to be so frightful a 
precedent, that I desire to see it stigmatised by the highest au- 
thority as a crime. And I have joined the committee which 
proposes to indict Mr. Eyre, in the hope that I may hear a 
court of justice declare that the only defence which can be set 
up (if the Royal Commissioners are right) is no defence, and 
that the killing of Mr. Gordon was the greatest offence known 
to the law — ^murder. — I remain. Sir, your obedient servant, 

Thomas H. Huxley. 
The AxHENiEUM Club, Oct. 30, 1866. 

Two letters to friends who had taken the opposite side 
in this burning question show how resolutely he set himself 
against permitting a difference on matters of principle to 
affect personal relations with his warmest opponents. 

Jermyn Street, Nov, 8, 1866. 
My dear Kingsley — The letter of which you have heard, 
containing my reasons for becoming a member of the Jamaica 


Committee was addressed to the Pall Mall Gazette in reply to 
some editorial speculations as to my reasons for so doing. 

I forget the date of the number in which my letter appeared, 
but I will find it out and send you a copy of the paper. 

Mr. Eyre's personality in this matter is nothing to me; I 
know nothing about him, and, if he is a friend of yours, I am 
very sorry to be obliged to join in a movement which must be 
excessively unpleasant to him. 

Furthermore, when the verdict of the jury which will try 
him is once given, all hostility towards him on my part will 
cease. So far from wishing to see him vindictively punished, 
I would much rather, if it were practicable, indict his official 
hat and his coat than himself. 

I desire to see Mr. Eyre indicted and a verdict of guilty in a 
criminal court obtained, because I have, from its commencement, 
carefully watched the Gordon case ; and because a new study of 
all the evidence which has now been collected has confirmed my 
first conviction that Gordon's execution was as bad a specimen 
as we have had since Jeffries' time of political murder. 

Don't suppose that I have any particular admiration for 
Gordon. He belongs to a sufficiently poor type of small political 
agitator — and very likely was a great nuisance to the Governor 
and other respectable persons. 

But that is no reason why he should be condemned, by an 
absurd tribunal and with a brutal mockery of the forms of jus- 
tice, for offences with which impartial judges, after a full in- 
vestigation, declare there is no evidence to show that he was 

Ex-Governor Eyre seized the man, put "him in the hands of 
the preposterous subalterns, who pretended to try him — saw the 
evidence and approved of the sentence. He is as much respon- 
sible for Gordon's death as if he had shot him through the head 
with his own hand. I daresay he did all this with the best of 
motives, and in a heroic vein. But if English law will not 
declare that heroes have no more right to kill people in this 
fashion than other folk, I shall take an early opportunity of 
migrating to Texas or some other quiet place where there is 
less hero-worship and more respect for justice, which is to my 
mind of much more importance than hero-worship. 

In point of fact, men take sides on this question, not so 
much by looking at the mere facts of the case, but rather as 
their deepest political convictions lead them. And the great use 
of the prosecution, and one of my reasons for joining it, is that 


it will help a great many people to find out what their profound- 
est political beliefs are. 

The hero-worshippers who believe that the world is to be 
governed by its great men, who are to lead the little ones, justly 
if they can ; but if not, unjustly drive or kick them the right way, 
will sympathise with Mr. Eyre. 

The other sect (to which I belong) who look upon hero- 
worship as no better than any other idolatry, and upon the 
attitude of mind of the hero-worshipper as essentially immoral ; 
who think it is better for a man to go wrong in freedom than 
to go right in chains ; who look upon the observance of inflexible 
justice as between man and man as of far greater importance 
than even the preservation of social order, will believe that Mr. 
Eyre has committed one of the greatest crimes of which a 
person in authority can be guilty, and will strain every nerve to 
obtain a declaration that their belief is in accordance with the 
law of England. * 

People who differ on fundamentals are not likely to convert 
one another. To you, as to my dear friend Tyndall, with whom 
I almost always act, but who in this matter is as much opposed 
to me as you are, I can only say, let us be strong enough and 
wise enough to fight the question out as a matter of principle 
and without bitterness. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

November 9, 1866. 

My dear Tyndall — Many thanks for the kind note which 
accompanied your letter to the Jamaica Committee. 

When I presented myself at Rogers' dinner last night I had 
not heard of the latter, and Gassiot began poking fun at me, and 
declaring that your absence was due to a quarrel between us on 
this unhappy subject 

I replied to the jest earnestly enough, that I hoped and 
believed our old friendship was strong enough to stand any 
strain that might be put on it, much as I grieved that we should 
be ranged in opposite camps in this or any other cause. 

That you and I have fundamentally different political prin- 
ciples must, I think, have become obvious to both of us during 
the progress of the American War. The fact is made still more 
plain by your printed letter, the tone and spirit of which I 
greatly admired without being able to recognise in it any im- 
portant fact or argument which had not passed through my 
mind before I joined the Jamaica Committee. 



Thus there is nothing for it but for us to agree to differ, 
each supporting his own side to the best of his ability, and 
respecting his friend's freedom as he would his own, and doing 
his best to remove all petty bitterness from that which is at 
bottom one of the most important constitutional battles in which 
Englishmen have for many years been engaged. 

If you and I are istrong enough and wise enough, we shall 
be able to do this, and yet preserve that love for one another 
which I value as one of the good things of my life. 

If not, we shall come to grief. I mean to do my best — 
Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Huxley was always of opinion that to write a good 
elementary text-book required a most extensive and inti- 
mate knowledge of the subject under discussion. Certainly 
the Lessons on Elementary Physiology which appeared at the 
end of 1866 were the outcome of such knowledge, and met 
with a wonderful and lasting success as a text-book. A 
graceful compliment was passed upon it by Sir William 
Lawrence, when, in thanking the author for the gift of the 
book, he wrote (January 24, 1867), " in your modest book 
* indocti discant, ament meminisse periti ! ' " 

This was before the days of American copyright, and 
English books were usually regarded as fair prey by the 
mass of American publishers. Among the exceptions to 
this practical rule were the firm of D. Appleton & Co., who 
made it a point of honour to treat foreign authors as though 
they were legally entitled to some equitable rights. On their 
behalf an arrangement was made for an authorised Ameri- 
can edition of the Physiology by Dr. Youmans, whose 
acquaintance thus made my father did not allow to drop. 

It is worth noting that by the year 1898 this little book 
had passed through four editions, and been reprinted thirty- 
one times. 



It has already been noted that Huxley's ethnological 
work continued t4iis year with a second series of lectures 
at the Royal Institution, while he enlarged his paper on 
"Two widely contrasted forms of Human Crania," and 
published it in the Journal of Anatomy. One paleontological 
memoir of his appeared this year on Acanthopholis, a fossil 
from the chalk marl, an additional piece of work for which 
he excuses himself to Sir C. Lyell (January 4, 1867) : — 

The new reptile advertised in GeoL Mag. has turned up in 
the way of business, and I could not help giving a notice of it, 
or I should not have undertaken anything fresh just now. 

The Spitzbergen things are very different, and I have taken 
sundry looks at them and put them by again to let my thoughts 

They are Ichthyosaurian, and I am not sure they do not 
belong to two species. But it is an awful business to compare 
all the Ichthyosaurians. I think that one form is new. Please 
to tell Nordenskiold this much. 

However, his chief interest was in the anatomy of birds, 
at which he had been working for some time, and especially 
the development of certain of the cranial bones as a basis 
of classification. On April 11, expanding one of his Hun- 
terian Lectures, he read a paper on this subject at the 
Zoological Society, afterwards published in their Proceed- 
ings for 1867. 

As he had found the works of Professor Cornay of help 
in the preparation of this paper, he was careful to send him 
a copy with an acknowledgment of his indebtedness, elicit- 


ing the reply, " c'cst si bean de trouver chcz rhomnie la science 
unie d la justice.'* 

He followed this up with another paper on " The Classi- 
fication and Distribution of the Alectoromorphae and Hete- 
romorphae " in 1868, and to the work upon this the fol- 
lowing letter to his ally, W. K. Parker, refers : — 

Royal Geolog. Survey of Gt. Britain, 
Jermyn Street, /«/k 17, 1867. 

My dear Parker — Nothing short of the direct temptation of 
the evil one could lead you to entertain so monstrous a doctrine, 
as that you propound about Cariamidae, 

I recommend fasting for three days and the application of a 
scourge thrice in the twenty-four hours I Do this, and about the 
fourth day you will perceive that the cranial differences alone 
are as great as those between Cathartes and Serpentarius, 

If you want to hear something new and true it is this : — 

1. That Memora is more unlike all the other Passerines {i.e, 
Coracomorphae) than they are unlike one another, and that it 
will have to stand in a group by itself. 

It is as much like a wren as you are — less so, in fact, if you 
go on maintaining that preposterous fiction about Serpentarius. 

2. Wood-peckers are more like crows than they are like 


Cypselomorphae G^cinomorphae 

\^ Desmognathae 


3. Sundevell is the sharpest fellow who has written on the 
classification of birds. 

4. Nitzsch and W. K. Parker * are the sharpest fellows who 
have written on their osteology. 

5. Though I do not see how it follows naturally on the above, 
still, where can I see a good skeleton of Glareola ? 

None in college, B.M.S. badly prepared. — Ever yours faith- 
fully, T. H. Huxley. 

♦ Except in the case of Serpenurius. 


An incident which diversified one of the Gilchrist lec- 
tures to working men is thus recorded by the Times of 
January 23, 1867 : — 

A GOOD EXAMPLE. Last night, at the termination of a 
lecture on ethnology, delivered by Professor Huxley to an audi- 
ence which filled the theatre of the London Mechanics' Institute 
in Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane, the lecturer said 
that he had received a letter as he entered the building which he 
would not take the responsibility of declining to read, although 
it had no reference to the subject under consideration. He then 
read the letter, which was simply signed ** A Regular Attendant 
at Your Lectures," and which in a few words drew attention 
to the appalling distress existing among the population out of 
work at Uie East End, and suggested that all those present at 
the lecture that night should be allowed the opportunity of con- 
tributing id. or 2d. each towards a fund for their relief, and that 
the professor should become the treasurer for the evening. This 
suggestion was received by the audience with marks of approval. 
The professor said he would not put pressure on anyone; he 
would simply place his own subscription in one of the skulls on 
the table. This he did, and all the audience coming on the plat- 
form, threw in money in copper and silver until the novel cash 
box was filled with coin which amounted to a large sum. A 
gentleman present expressed a hope that the example set by 
that audience might be followed with good results wherever 
large bodies assembled either for educational or recreative 

At the end of April this year my father spent a week in 
Brittany with Dr. Hooker and Sir J. Lubbock, rambling 
about the neighbourhood of Rennes and Vannes, and com- 
bining the examination of prehistoric remains with the re- 
freshment of holiday making. 

Few letters of this period exist. The x Club was doing 
its work. Most of those to whom he would naturally have 
written he met constantly. Two letters to Professor 
Haeckel give pieces of his experience. One suggests the 
limits of aggressive polemics, as to which I remember his 
once saying that he himself had only twice been the ag- 
gressor in controversy, without waiting to be personally 
attacked; once where he found his opponent was engaged 


in a flanking movement; the other when a man of g^eat 
public reputation had come forward to champion an un- 
tenable position of the older orthodoxy, and a blow dealt 
to his pretensions to historical and scientific accuracy would 
not only bring the question home to many who neglected 
it in an impersonal form, but would also react upon the 
value of the historical arguments with which he sought to 
stir public opinion in other spheres. The other letter 
touches on the influence, at once calming and invigorating, 
as he had known it to the full for the last twelve years, 
which a wife can bring in the midst of outward struggles 
to the inner life of the home. 

Jermyn Street, London, May 20, 1867. 

My dear Haeckel — Your letter, though dated the 12th, has 
but just reached me. I mention this lest you should think me 
remiss, my sin in not writing to you already being sufficiently 
great But your book did not reach me until November, and I 
have been hard at work lecturing, with scarcely an intermission 
ever since. 

Now I need hardly say that the Morphologie is not exactly 
a novel to be taken up and read in the intervals of business. On 
the contrary, though profoundly interesting, it is an uncom- 
monly hard book, and one wants to read every sentence of 
it over. 

I went through it within a fortnight of its coming into my 
hands, so as to get at your general drift and purpose, but up 
to this time I have not been able to read it as I feel I ought to 
read it before venturing upon criticism. You cannot imagine 
how my time is frittered away in these accursed lectures and 

There can be but one opinion, however, as to the knowledge 
and intellectual grasp displayed in the book; and, to me, the 
attempt to systematise biology as a whole is especially interest- 
ing and valuable. 

I shall go over this part of your work with great care by 
and by, but I am afraid you must expect that the number of 
biologists who will do so, will remain exceedingly small. Our 
comrades are not strong in logic and philosophy. 

With respect to the polemic excursus, of course, I chuckle 
over them most sympathetically, and then say how naughty they 
are! I have done too much of the same sort of thing not to 


sympathise entirely with you; and I am much inclined to think 
that it is a good Uiing for a man, once at any rate in his life, 
to perform a public war-dance against all sorts of humbug and 

But having satisfied one's love of freedom in this way, per- 
haps the sooner the war-paint is off the better. It has no virtue 
except as a sig^ of one's own frame of mind and determina- 
tion, and when that is once known, is little better than a dis- 

I think there are a few patches of this kind, my dear friend, 
which may as well come out in the next edition, e.g, that wonder- 
ful note about the relation of God to gas, the gravity of which 
greatly tickled my fancy. 

I pictured to myself the effect which a translation of this 
would have upon the minds of my respectable countrymen I 

Apropos of translation. Darwin wrote to me on that sub- 
ject, and with his usual generosity, would have made a consider- 
able contribution towards the expense if we could have seen 
our way to the publication of a translation. But I do not think 
it would be well to translate the book in fragments, and, as a 
whole, it would be a very costly undertaking, with very little 
chance of finding readers. 

I do not believe that in the British Islands there are fifty 
people who are competent to read the book, and of the fifty, five 
and twenty have read it or will read it in German. 

What I desire to do is to write a review of it, which will 
bring it into some notice on this side of the water, and this I 
hope to do before long. If I do not it will be, you well know, 
from no want of inclination, but simply from lack of time. 

In any case, as soon as I have been able to study the book 
carefully, you shall have my honest opinion about all points. 

I am glad your journey has yielded so good a scientific 
harvest, and especially that you found my Oceanic Hydrozoa of 
some use. But I am shocked to find you had no copy of the 
book of your own, and I shall take care that one is sent to 
you. It is my first-bom work, done when I was very raw and 
inexperienced, and had neither friends nor help. Perhaps I am 
all the fonder of the child on that ground. 

A lively memory of you remains in my house, and wife and 
children will be very glad to hear that I have news of you when 
I go home to dinner. 

Keep us in kindly recollection, and believe me — Ever yours 
very faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 


July 16, 1867. 

My dear Haeckel — My wife and I send you our most 
hearty congratulations and good wishes. Give your betrothed 
a good account of us, for we hope in the future to entertain as 
warm a friendship for her as for you. I was very glad to have 
the news, for it seemed to me very sad that a man of your warm 
affections should be surrounded only by hopeless regrets. Such 
Surroundings inflict a sort of partial paralysis upon one's whole 
nature, a result which is, to me, far more serious and regrettable 
than the mere suffering one undergoes. 

The one thing for men, who like you and I stand pretty much 
alone, and have a good deal of fighting to do in the external 
world, is to have light and warmth and confidence within the 
four walls of home. May all these good things await you I 

Many thanks for your kind invitation to Jena. I am sure 
my wife would be as much pleased as I to accept it, but it is 
very difficult for her to leave her children. 

We will keep it before us as a pleasant possibility, but I 
suspect you and Madame will be able to come to England before 
we shall reach Germany. 

I wish I had rooms to offer you, but you have seen that troop 
of children, and they leave no comer unoccupied. 

Many thanks for the Bericht and the genealogical tables. 
You seem, as usual, to have got through an immense amount of 

I have been exceedingly occupied with a paper on the 
" Qassification of Birds," a sort of expansion of one of my 
Hunterian Lectures this year. It has now gone to press, and 
I hope soon to be able to send you a copy of it. 

Occupation of this and other kinds must be my excuse for 
having allowed so much longer a time to slip by than I imagined 
had done before writing to you. It is not for want of S3mi- 
pathy, be sure, for my wife and I have often talked of the new 
life opening out to you. 

This is written in my best hand. I am proud of it, as I can 
read every word quite easily myself, which is more than I can 
always say for my own MS. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The same experience is attested and enforced in the 
correspondence with Dr. Anton Dohm, which begins this 
year. Genial, enthusiastic, as pungent as he was eager in 
conversation, the future founder of the Marine Biological 




Station at Naples, on his first visit to England, made my 
father's acquaintance by accepting his invitation to stay with 
him '* for as long as you can make it convenient to stay " 
at Swanage, " a little country town with no sort of amuse- 
ment except what is to be got by walking about a rather 
pretty country. But having warned you of this, I repeat 
that it will give me much pleasure to see you if you think* 
it worth while to come so far." 

Dr. Dohm came, and came into the midst of the family 
— ^seven children, ranging from ten years to babyhood, with 
whom he made himself as popular by his farmyard reper- 
tory, as he did with the elders by other qualities. The im- 
pression left upon him appears from a letter written soon 
after — 

"Ich habe heute mehrere Capitel in Mill's Utilitarianism 
gelesen and das Wort happiness mehr als einmal gefunden: 
hatte ich eine Definition dieses vielumworbenen Wortes irgend 
Jemand zu geben, ich wiirde sagen : ♦ go and see the Huxley 
family at Swanage ; and if you would enjoy the same I enjoyed, 
you would feel what is happiness, and never more ask for a 
definition of this sentiment." 

Swanage, Sgpt. 22, 1867. 

My dear Dohrn — Thanks to my acquaintance with the 
Mikroskopische Anatomie, and to the fact that you employ our 
manuscript characters, and not the hieroglyphics of what I ven- 
ture to call the " cursed " and not " cursiv " Schrift, your letter 
was as easy as it was pleasant to read. We are all glad to have 
news of you, though it was really very unnecessary to thank 
us for trying to make your brief visit a pleasant one. Your 
conscience must be more " pungent " than your talk, if it pricks 
you with so little cause. My wife rejoices saucily to find that • 
phrase of hers has stuck so strongly in your mind, but you must 
remember her fondness for ** Tusch." 

You must certainly marry. In my bachelor days, it was 
unsafe for anyone to approadi me before mid-day, and for all 
intellectual purposes I was barren till the evening. Breakfast 
at six would have upset me for the day. You and the lobster 
noted the difference the other day. 

* I have been reading several chapters of Mill's Utilitarianism 
to-day, and met with the word ** happiness** more than once ; if /had 
to give anybody a definition of this much debated word, I should say — 


Whether it is matrimony or whether it is middle age I don't 
know, but as time goes on you can combine both. 

I cannot but accept your kind offer to send me Fanny 
Lewald's works, though it is a shame to rob you of them. In 
return my wife insists on your studying a copy of Tennyson, 
which we shall send you as soon as we return to civilisation, 
which will be next Friday. If you are in London after that date 
we shall hope to see you once more before you return to the 
bosom of the " Fatherland." 

I did my best to give the children your message, but I fear I 
failed ignominiously in giving the proper bovine vocalisation to 
" Mroo." 

That small curly-headed boy Harry, struck, I suppose by the 
kindness you both show to children, has effected a synthesis 
between you and Tyndall, and gravely observed the other day, 
" Doctor Dohm-Tyndall do say Mroo." 

My wife . . . sends her kind regards. The " seven " are not 
here or they would vote love by acclamation. — Ever yours very 
faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

He did not this year attend the British Association, 
which was held in Dundee. This was the first occasion on 
which an evening was devoted to a working men's lecture, 
a step important as tending towards his own ideal of what 
science should be: — not the province of the few, but the 
possession of the many. 

This first lecture was delivered by Professor Tyndall, 
who wrote him an account of the meeting, and in particular 
of his reconciliation with Professors Thomson (Lord Kel- 
vin) and Tait, with whom he had had a somewhat embit- 
tered controversy. 

In his reply, Huxley writes : — 

To J. Tyndall 

Thanks also for a copy of the Dundee Advertiser containing 
your lecture. It seemed to me that the report must be a very 
good one, and the lecture reads exceedingly well. You have 
inaugurated the working men's lectures of the Association in a 
way that cannot be improved. And it was worth the trouble, 
for I suspect they will become a great and noble feature in the 



Everything seems to have gone well at the meeting, the edu- 
cational business carried [i.e. a recommendation that natural 
science be made a part of the curriculum in the public schools], 
and the anthropologers making fools of themselves in a most 
effectual way. So that I do not feel I have .anything to reproach 
myself with for being absent. 

I am very pleased to hear of the reconciliation with Thom- 
son and Tait. The mode of it speaks well for them, and the fact 
will remove a certain source of friction from amongst the cogs 
of your mental machinery. 

The following gives the reason for his resigning the 
Fullerian lectureship: — 

ATHENiCUM Club, May, 1867. 

My dear Tyndall — A conversation I had with Bence Jones 
yesterday reminded me that I ought to have communicated with 
you. But we do not meet so often as we used to do, being, I sup- 
pose, both very busy, and I forget to write. 

You recollect that the last time we talked together, you 
mentioned a notion of Bence Jones's to make the Fulle- 
rian Professorship of Physiology a practically permanent ap- 
pointment, and that I was quite inclined to stick by that (if 
such arrangement could be carried out), and give up other 

But since I have been engaged in the present course of 
lectures I have found reason to. change my views. It is very 
hard work, and takes up every atom of my time to make the 
lectures what they should be ; and I find that at this time of year, 
being more or less used up, I suppose, with the winter work, I 
stand the worry and excitement of the actual lectures very 
badly. Add to this that it is six weeks clean gone out of the 
only time I have disposable for real scientific progress, and you 
will understand how it is that I have made up my mind to 

I put all this clearly before Bence Jones yesterday, with the 
proviso that I could and would do nothing that should embarrass 
the Institution or himself. 

If there is the least difficulty in supplying my place, or if the 
^managers think I shall deal shadily with them by resigning 
before the expiration of my term, of course I go on. And I 
hope you all understand that I would do anything rather than 
put even the appearance of a slight upon those who were kind 
enough to elect me.— Ever yours, T. H. Huxley. 


He found a substitute for 1868, the last year of the 
triennial course, in Dr. (now Sir) Michael Foster. Of his 
final lectures in 1867 he used to tell a story against him- 

In my early period as a lecturer, I had very little confidence 
in my general powers, but one thing I prided myself upon was 
clearness. I was once talking of the brain before a large mixed 
audience, and soon began to feel that no one in the room under- 
stood me. Finally I saw the thoroughly interested face of a 
woman auditor, and took consolation in delivering the remainder 
of the lecture directly to her. At the close, my feeling as to her 
interest was confirmed when she came up and asked if she might 
put one question upon a single point which she had not quite 
understood. " Certainly," I replied. " Now, Professor," she 
said, " is the cerebellum inside or outside the skull ? " (Remi- 
niscences of T. H. Huxley, by Professor H. Fairfield Osborn). 

Dr. Foster used to add maliciously, that disgust at the 
small impression he seemed to have made was the true 
reason for the transference of the lectures. 


In 1868 he published five scientific memoirs, amongst 
them his classification of birds and " Remarks upon Archae- 
opteryx Lithographica " (Proc. Roy. Soc. xvi. 1868, pp. 243- 
248). This creature, a bird with reptilian characters, was a 
suggestive object from which to popularise some of the far- 
reaching results of his many years' labour upon the mor- 
phology of both birds and reptiles. Thus it led to a lecture 
at the Royal Institution, on February 7, " On the Animals 
which are most nearly intermediate between Birds and 

Of this branch of work Sir M. Foster says : (Obit. Not. 
Proc. Roy. Soc. vol. lix.) : — 

One great consequence of these researches was that science 
was enriched by a clear demonstration of the many and close 
affinities between reptiles and birds, so that the two hence- 
forward came to be known under the joint title of Sauropsida, 
the amphibia being at the same time distinctly more separated 
from the reptiles, and their relations to fishes more clearly signi- 
fied by the joint title of Ichthyopsida. At the same time, proof 
was brought forward that the line of descent of the Sauropsida 
clearly diverged from that of the Mammalia, both starting from 
some common ancestry. And besides this great generalisation, 
the importance of which, both from a classificatory and from an 
evolutional point of view, needs no comment, there came out 
of the same researches numerous lesser contributions to the 
advancement of morphological knowledge, including among 
others an attempt, in many respects successful, at a classification 
of birds. 

This work in connection with the reptilian ancestry of 
birds further appears in the paleontological papers published 



in 1869 upon the Dinosaurs (see Chap. XXIIL), and is 
referred to in a letter to Haeckel, p. 325. 

His Hunterian lectures on the Invertebrata appeared 
this year in the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science 
(pp. 126-129, and 191-201), and in the October number 
of the same journal appeared his famous article " On some 
Organisms living at great depth in the North Atlantic 
Ocean/' originally delivered before the British Association 
at Norwich in this year (1868). The sticky or viscid char- 
acter of the fresh mud from the bottom of the Atlantic had 
already been noticed by Captain Dayman when making 
soundings for the Atlantic cable. This stickiness was appar- 
ently due to the presence of innumerable lumps of a trans- 
parent, gelatinous substance, consisting of minute granules 
without discoverable nucleus or membranous envelope, 
and interspersed with cretaceous coccoliths. After a de- 
scription of the structure of this substance and its chemical 
reactions, he makes a careful proviso against confounding 
the statement of fact in the description and the interpre- 
tation which he proceeds to put upon these facts : — 

I conceive that the granulate heaps and the transparent 
gelatinous matter in which they are embedded represent masses 
of protoplasm. Take away the cysts which characterise the 
Radiolaria, and a dead S phaerosournvf ould very nearly represent 
one of this deep-sea " Ur-schleim," which must, I think, be re- 
garded as a new form of those simple animated beings which 
have recently been so well described by Haeckel in his Mono- 
graphic der Moneras, p. 210.* 

Of this he writes to Haeckel on October 6, 1868 : — 

[This paper] is about a new "Moner" which lies at the 
bottom of the Atlantic to all appearances, and gives rise to 
some wonderful calcified bodies. I have christened it Bathybius 
Haeckelii, and I hope that you will not be ashamed of your god- 
child. I will send you some of the mud with the paper. 

The explanation was plausible enough on general 
grounds, if the evidence had been all that it seemed to be. 

♦ See Coll. Ess. v. 153. 


But it must be noted that the specimens examined by him 
and by Haeckel, who two years later published a full and 
detailed description of Bathybius, were seen in a preserved 
state. Neither of them saw a fresh specimen, though on 
the cruise of the Porcupine, Sir Wyville Thomson and Dr. 
W. Carpenter examined the substance in a fresh state, and 
found no better explanation to give of it. However, not 
only were the expectations that it was very widely dis- 
tributed over the Atlantic bottom, falsified in 1879 by the 
researches of the Challenger expedition, but the behaviour 
of certain deep-sea specimens gave good ground for sus- 
pecting that what had been sent home before as genuine 
deep-sea mud, was a precipitate due to the action on the 
specimens of the spirit in which they were preserved. 
Though Haeckel, with his special experience of Monera, 
refused to desert Bathybius, a close parallel to which was 
found off Greenland in 1876, the rest of its sponsors gave 
it up. Whatever it might be as a matter of possibility, the 
particular evidence upon which it had been described was 
tainted. Once assured of this, Huxley characteristically 
took the bull by the horns. Without waiting for any one 
else to come forward, he made public renunciation of Ba- 
thybius at the British Association in 1879.* The " eating of 
the leek " as recommended to his friend Dohm (July 7, 
1868), was not merely a counsel for others, but was a pre- 
scription followed by himself on occasion : — 

" As you know, I did not think you were on the right track 
with the Arthropoda, and I am not going to profess to be sorry 
that you have finally worked yourself to that conclusion. 

As to the unlucky publication in the Journal of Anatomy and 
Physiology, you have read your Shakespeare and know what is 
meant by " eating a leek." Well, every honest man has to do 
that now and then, and I assure you that if eaten fairly and 
without grimaces, the devouring of that herb has a very whole- 
some cooling effect on the blood, particularly in people of san- 
guine temperament. 

Seriously you must not mind a check of this kind. 

* See vol. ii. p. 5, s^. 

i868 STYLE 319 

This incident, one may suspect, was in his mind when 
he wrote in his Autobiography of the rapidity of thought 
characteristic of his mother: — 

That characteristic has been passed on to me in full 
strength ; it has often stood me in good stead, it has sometimes 
played me sad tricks, and it has always been a danger. 

At the Norwich meeting of the Association he also de- 
livered his well-known lecture to working men " On a 
Piece of Chalk," a perfect example of the handling of a 
common and trivial subject, so as to make it " a window 
into the Infinite." He was particularly interested in the 
success of the meeting, as his friend Hooker was President, 
and writes to Darwin, September 12 : — 

We had a capital meeting at Norwich, and dear old Hooker 
came out in great force as he always does in emergencies. 

The only fault was the terrible " Darwinismus " which 
spread over the section and crept out when you least expected 
it, even in Fergusson's lecture on " Buddhist Temples." 

You will have the rare happiness to see your ideas tri- 
umphant during your lifetime. 

PS, — I am preparing to go into opposition ; I can't stand it. 

This lecture " On a Piece of Chalk," together with two 
others delivered this year, seem to me to mark the matur- 
ing of his style into that mastery of clear expression for 
which he deliberately laboured, the saying exactly what he 
meant, neither too much nor too little, without confusion 
and without obscurity. Have something to say, and say it, 
was the Duke of Wellington's theory of style ; Huxley's was 
to say that which has to be said in such language that you 
can stand cross-examination on each word. Be clear, 
though you may be convicted of error. If you are clearly 
wrong, you will run up against a fact some time and get set 
right. If you shuffle with your subject, and study chiefly to 
use language which will give a loophole of escape either 
way, there is no hope for you. 

This was the secret of his lucidity. In no one could 
BuflFon's aphorism on style find a better illustration, Le style 
c'est Fhomme nicme. In him science and literature, too often 



divorced, were closely united; and literature owes him a 
debt for importing into it so much of the highest scientific 
habit of mind; for showing that truthfulness need not be 
bald, and that real power lies more in exact accuracy than 
in luxuriance of diction. Years after, no less an authority 
than Spedding, in a letter upon the influence of Bacon on 
his own style in the matter of exactitude, the pruning of fine 
epithets and sweeping statements, the reduction of number- 
less superlatives to positives, asserted that, if as a young 
man he had fallen in with Huxley's writings before Bacon's, 
they would have produced the same effect upon him.* 

Of the other two discourses referred to, one is the open- 
ing address which he delivered as Principal at the South 
London Working Men's College on January 4, " A Liberal 
Education, and Where to Find It." This is not a brief for 
science to the exclusion of other teaching; no essay has 
insisted more strenuously on the evils of a one-sided educa- 
tion, whether it be classical or scientific; but it urged the 
necessity for a strong tincture of science and her method, 
if the modern conception of the world, created by the spread 
of natural knowledge, is to be fairly understood. If culture 
is the " criticism of life," it is fallacious if deprived of knowl- 
edge of the most important factor which has transformed 
the medieval into the modem spirit 

Two of his most striking passages are to be found in 
this address; one the simile of the force behind nature as 
the hidden chess player ; the other the noble description of 
the end of a true education. 

Well known as it is, I venture to quote the latter as an 
instance of his style : — 

That man, I think, has had a liberal education, who has been 
so trained in youth that his body is the ready servant of his will, 
and does with ease and pleasure all the work that as a mechan- 
ism it is capable of ; whose intellect is a clear cold logic engine, 
with all its parts of equal strength, and in smooth working 
order; ready, like a steam engine, to be turned to any kind of 
work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge the anchors of 
the mind; whose mind is stored with a knowledge of the great 

* See p. 520. 


and fundamental truths of nature and of the laws of her opera- 
tions; one who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but 
whose passions are trained to come to heel by a vigorous will, 
the servant of a tender conscience; who has learned to love all 
beauty, whether of nature or of art, to hate all vileness, and to 
respect others as himself. 

Such an one and ho other, I conceive, has had a liberal edu- 
cation, for he is, as completely as a man can be, in harmony with 
nature. He will make the best of her, and she of him. They 
will get on together rarely; she as his ever-beneficent mother; 
he as her mouth-piece, her conscious self, her minister and 

The third of these discourses is the address " On the 
Physical Basis of Life," of which he writes to Haeckel on 
January 20, 1869 : — 

You will be amused to hear that I went to the holy city, 
Edinburgh itself, the other day, for the purpose of giving the first 
of a series of Sunday lectures. I came back without being 
stoned; but Murchison (who is a Scotchman you know), told me 
he thought it was the boldest act of my life. The lecture will 
be published in February, and I shall send it to you, as it con- 
tains a criticism of materialism which I should like you to 

In it he explains in popular form a striking generalisa- 
tion of scientific research, namely, that whether in animals 
or plants, the structural unit of the living body is made up 
of similar material, and that vital action and even thought 
are ultimately based upon molecular changes in this life- 
stuff. Materialism! g^oss and brutal materialism! was the 
mildest comment he expected in some quarters; and he 
took the opportunity to explain how he held " this union of 
materialistic terminology with the repudiation of material- 
istic philosophy," considering the latter " to involve grave 
philosophic error." 

His expectations were fully justified ; in fact, he writes 
that some persons seemed to imagine that he had invented 
protoplasm for the purposes of the lecture. 

Here, too, in the course of a reply to Archbishop 
Thompson's confusion of the spirit of modem thought with 


the system of M. Comte, he launched his well-known defini- 
tion of Comtism as Catholicism minus Christianity, which 
involved him in a short controversy with Mr. Congreve (see 
" The Scientific Aspects of Positivism," Lay Sermons, p. 
162), and with another leading Positivist, who sent him a 
letter through Mr. Darwin. Huxley replied : — 

Jermyn Street. March 11, 1869. 

My dear Darwin — I know quite enough of Mr. to have 

paid every attention to what he has to say, even if you had not 
been his ambassador. 

I glanced over his letter when I returned home last night 
very tired with my two nights' chairmanship at the Ethnological 
and the Geological Societies. 

Most of it is fair enough, though I must say not helping me 
to any novel considerations. 

Two paragraphs, however, contained opinions which Mr. 

is at perfect liberty to entertain, but not, I think, to 

express to me. 

The one is, that I shaped what I had to say at Edinburgh 
with a view of stirring up the prejudices of the Scotch Presby- 
terians (imagine how many Presbyterians I had in my audi- 
ences!) against Comte. 

The other is the concluding paragraph, in which Mr. 

recommends me to " read Comte" clearly implying that I have 
criticised Comte without reading him. 

You will know how far I am likely to have committed either 
of the immoralities thus laid to my charge. 

At any rate, I do not think I care to enter into more direct 
relations with anyone who so heedlessly and unjustifiably as- 
sumes me to be guilty of them. Therefore I shall content 

myself with acknowledging the receipt of Mr. *s letter 

through you. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Jermyn Street, March 17, 1869. 

My dear Darwin — After I had sent my letter to you the 
other day I thought how stupid I had been not to put in a slip 
of paper to say it was meant for 's edification. 

I made sure you would understand that I wished it to be 
sent on, and wrote it (standing on the points of my toes and 
with my tail up very stiff) with that end in view. 

[Sketch of two dogs bristling up.] 

I am getting so weary of people writing to propose con- 


troversy to me upon one point or another, that I begin to wish 
the article had never been written. The fighting in itself is not 
particularly objectionable, but it's the waste of time. 

I begin to understand your sufferings over the Origin. A 
good book is comparable to a piece of meat, and fools are as 
flies who swarm to it^ each for the purpose of depositing and 
hatching his own particular maggot of an idea. — Efver yours, 

T. H. Huxley. 

A little later he wrote to Charles Kingsley, who had 
supported him in the controversy: — 

Jermyn Street, Apri/ 12, 1869. 

My dear K1N9SLEY — Tlianks for your hearty bottle-holding. 

Congreve is no better than a donkey to take the line he does. 
I studied Comte, Philosophic, Politique, and all sixteen years 
ago, and having formed my judgment about him, put it into 
one of the pigeon holes of my brain (about the H.* minor), and 
there let it rest till it was wanted. 

You are perfectly right in saying that Comte knew nothing 
about physical science — it is one of the points I am going to 
put in evidence. 

The law of the three states is mainly evolved from his own 
consciousness, and is only a bad way of expressing that tendency 
to personification which is inherent in man. 

The Classification of Sciences is bosh — as Spencer has 
already shown. 

Nothing short of madness, however, can have dictated Con- 
greve's challenge of my admiration of Comte as a man at the 
end of his article. Did you ever read Littre's Life of Cotntef 
I bought it when it came out a year or more ago, and I rose 
from its perusal with a feeling of sheer disgust and contempt 
for the man who could treat a noble-hearted woman who had 
saved his life and his reason, as Comte treated his wife. 

As soon as I have time I will deal with Comte effectually, 
you may depend upon that. At the same time, I shall endeavour 
to be just to what there is (as I hold), really great and good in 
his clear conception of the necessity of reconstructing society 
from the bottom to the top " sans dieu ni roi," if I may interpret 
that somewhat tall phrase as meaning "with our conceptions 
of religion and politics on a scientific basis." 

* The Hippocampus minor: compare p. 206. 



Comte in his later days was an apostate from his own creed ; 
his "nouveau grand Etre supreme" being as big a fetish as 
ever nigger first made and then worshipped. — Ever yours faith- 
fully, T. H. Huxley. 

It is interesting to note how he invariably submitted 
his writings to the criticism of his wife before they were 
seen by any other eye. To her judgment was due the 
toning down of many a passage which erred by excess of 
vigour, and the clearing up of phrases which would be 
obscure to the public. In fact, if an essay met with her 
approval, he felt sure it would not fail of its effect when 
published. Writing to her from Norwich on August 23, 
1868, he confesses himself with reference to the lecture " On 
a Piece of Chalk " :— 

I met Grove who edits Mactnillan, at the soiree. He pulled 
the proof of my lecture out of his pocket and said, " Look here, 
there is one paragraph in your lecture I can make neither top 
nor tail of. I can't understand what it means." I looked to 
where his finger pointed, and behold it was the paragraph you 
objected to when I read you the lecture on the sea shore! I 
told him, and said I should confess, however set up it might 
make you. 

At the beginning of September, he rejoined his wife and 
family at Littlehampton, " a grand place for children, be- 
cause you go up rather than down into the sea, and it is 
quite impossible for them to get into mischief by falling," 
as he described it to his friend Dr. Dohm, who came down 
for ten days, eagerly looking forward " to stimulating walks 
over stock and stone, to Tennyson, Herbert Spencer, and 
Harry's ringing laugh." 

The latter half of the month he spent at or near Dublin, 
serving upon the Commission on Science and Art In- 
struction : — 

To-day (he writes on September 16), we shall be occupied 
in inspecting the School of Science and the Glasnevin botanical 
and agricultural gardens, and to-morrow we begin the session 
work of examining all the Irishry, who want jobs perpetrated. 
It is weary work, and the papers are already beginning to tell 
lies about us and attack us. 


The rest of the year he remained in London, except 
the last four days of December, when he was lecturing at 
Newcastle, and stayed with Sir W. Armstrong at Jesmond. 

To Professor Haeckel 

Jan, 21, 1868. 

Don't you think we did a right thing in awarding the Copley 
Medal to Baer last year ? The old man was much pleased, and it 
was a comfort to me to think that we had not let him go to his 
grave without the highest honour we had to bestow. 

I am over head and ears, as we say, in work, lecturing, 
giving addresses to the working men and (figurez vous!) to 
the clergy.* 

In scientific work the main thing just now about which I am 
engaged is a revision of the Dinosauria, with an eye to the 
" Descendenz Theorie." The road from Reptiles to Birds is by 
way of Dinosauria to the Ratitae. The bird "phylum" was 
struthious, and wings grew out of rudimentary forelimbs. 

You see that among other things I have been reading Ernst 
Haeckel's Morphologie. 

The next two letters reflect his views on the proper 
work to be undertaken by men of unusual scientific ca- 
pacity — 

Jermvn Street, /flif. 15, 1868. 

My dear Dohrn — Though the most procrastinating corre- 
spondent in existence when a letter does not absolutely require 
an answer, I am tolerably well-behaved when something needs 
to be said or done immediately. And as that appears to me to 
be the case with your letter of the 13th which has this moment 
reached me, I lose no time in replying to it. 

The Calcutta appointment has been in my hands as well as 
Turner's, and I have made two or three efforts, all of which un- 
fortunately have proved unsuccessful to find; (i) A man who 

♦ On December 12, 1867, there was a meeting of clergy at Sion 
House, under the auspices of Dean Farrar and the Rev. W. Rogers of 
Bishopsgate, when the bearing of recent science upon orthodox dogma 
was discussed. First Huxley delivered an address : some of the 
clergy present denounced airy concessions as impossible; others 
declared that they had long ago accepted the teachings of geology ; 
whereupon a candid friend inquired, "Then why don't you say so 
from your pulpits?" (See CM Ess, iii. 119.) 


will do for it and at the same time (2) for whom it will do. 
Now you fulfil the first condition admirably, but as to the second 
I have very great doubts. 

In the first place the climate of Calcutta is not particularly 
good for anyone who has a tendency to dysentery, and I doubt 
very much if you would stand it for six months. 

Secondly, we have a proverb that it is not wise to use razors 
to cut blocks. 

The business of the man who is appointed to that museum 
will be to get it into order. If he does his duty he will give his 
time and attention to museum work pure and simple, and I 
don't think that (especially in an Indian climate), he has much 
energy left for an3rthing else after the day's work is done. Nam- 
ing and arranging specimens is a most admirable and useful 
emplo3rment, but when you have done it is " cutting blocks," and 
you, my friend, are a most indubitable razor, and I do not wish 
to have your edge blunted in that fashion. 

If it were necessary for you to win your own bread, one's 
advice might be modified. Under such circumstances one must 
do things which are not entirely desirable. But for you who 
are your own master and have a career before you, to bind 
yourself down to work six hours a day at things you do not 
care about and which others could do just as well, while you 
are neglecting the things which you do care for, and which 
others could not do so well, would, I think, be amazingly unwise. 

Liberavi animam! don't tell my Indian friends I have dis- 
suaded you, but on my conscience I could give no other advice. 

We have to thank you three times over. In the first place 
for a portrait which has taken its place among those of our 
other friends; secondly for the great pleasure you gave my 
little daughter Jessie, by the books you so kindly sent; and 
thirdly, for Fanny Lewald's autobiography which arrived a few 
days ago. 

Jessie is meditating a letter of thanks (a serious undertak- 
ing), and when it is sent the mother will have a word to say 
for herself. 

In the middle of October scarlet fever broke out among my 
children, and they have all had it in succession, except Jessie, 
who took it seven years ago. The last convalescent is now well, 
but we had the disease in the hou^e nearly three months, and 
have been like lepers, cut off from all communication with our 
neighbours for that time. 

We have had a great deal of anxiety, and my wife has been 



pretty nearly worn out with nursing day and night; but by 
great good fortune " the happy family " has escaped all perma- 
nent injury, and you might hear as much laughter in the house 
as at Swanage. 

Will you be so kind as to thank Professor Gegenbaur for a 
paper on the development of the vertebral colimin of Lepidos- 
teum I have just received from him ? He has been writing about 
the process of ossification and the " deck-knochen " question, but 
I catmot make out exactly where. Could you let me know ? 

I am anxious for the Arthropoden Werk, but I expect to 
gasp when it comes. 

Turn to p. 380 of the new edition of our friend Kolliker's 
Handbuch, and you will find that though a view which I took 
of the " organon adamantinae " some twelve or fourteen years 
ago, and which Kolliker has up to this time repudiated, turns 
out, and is now admitted by him, to be perfectly correct, yet 
" that I was not acquainted with the facts that would justify 
the conclusion." Really, if I had time I could be angry. 

Pray remember me most kindly to Haeckel, to all whose 
enemies I wish confusion, and believe me, ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

PS. — I have read a hundred pages or so of Fanny Lewald's 
1st Bd., and am delighted with her insight into child-life. 

Tyndall was resigning his lectureship at the School of 
Mines — 

Jermvn Street, /««/ 10, 1868. 

My dear Tyndall — All I can say is, I am heartily sorry. 

If you feel that your lectures here interfere with your origi- 
nal work, I should not be a true friend either to science or 
yourself if I said a word against your leaving us. 

But for all that I am and shall remain very sorry. — Ever 
yours very sincerely, T. H. Huxley. 

If you recommend , of course I shall be very glad to 

support him in any way I can. But at present I am rather dis- 
posed to d ^n anyone who occupies your place. 

The following .extract is from a letter to Haeckel 
(November 13, 1868), with reference to the proposed trans- 
lation of his Morphologic by the Ray Society : — 

We shall at once look out for a good translator of the text, 
as the job will be a long and a tough one. My wife (who sends 


her best wishes and congratulations on your fatherhood) will 
do the bits of Goethe's poetry, and I will look after the prose 

Next as to the text itself. The council were a little alarmed 
at the bulk of the book, and it is of the utmost importance that 
it should be condensed to the uttermost. 

Furthermore, English propriety had taken fright at nunours 
touching the aggressive heterodoxy of some passages. (We do 
not much mind heterodoxy here, if it does not openly proclaim 
itself as such.) 

And on both these points I had not only to give very dis- 
tinct assurances, such as I thought your letters had entitled me 
to give ; but in a certain sense to become myself responsible for 
your behaving yourself like a good boy ! 

If I had not known you and understood your nature and dis- 
position as I fancy I do, I should not have allowed myself to be 
put in this position; but I have implicit faith in your doing 
what is wise and right, and so making it tenable. 

There is not the slightest desire to make you mutilate your 
book or leave out anything which you conceive to be absolutely 
essential ; and I on my part should certainly not think of asking 
you to make any alteration which would not in my judgment 
improve the book quite irrespectively of the tastes of the British 

[Alterations are suggested.] But I stop. By this time you 
will be swearing at me for attacking all your favourite bits. 
Let me know what you think about these matters. 

I congratulate you and Madame Haeckel heartily on the 
birth of your boy. Children work a greater metamorphosis in 
men than any other condition of life. They ripen one wonder- 
fully and make life ten times better worth having than it was. 

26 Abbey Place, Nov. 15, 1868. 
My dear Darwin — You are always the bienvenu, and we 
shall be right glad to see you on Sunday morning. 

We breakfast at 8.30, and the decks are clear before nine. I 
would offer you breakfast, but I know it does not suit you to 
come out unfed; and besides you would abuse the opportunity 
to demoralise Harry.* — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

* This small boy of nearly four was a great favourite of Darwin's. 
When we children were all staying at Down about this time, Darwin 



An undated note to Darwin belongs to the very end of 
this year, or to the beginning of the next : — 

The two volumes of the new book have just reached me. 
My best thanks for them; and if you can only send me a little 
time for reading within the next three months you will heighten 
the obligation twenty-fold, I wish I had either two heads or a 
body that needed no rest ! 

himself would come in upon us at dinner, and patting him on the 
head, utter what has become a household word amongst us, *' Make 
yourself at home, and take large mouthfuls.*' 


In 1869 Huxley published five paleontological papers, 
chiefly upon the Dinosaurs (see letter above to Haeckel, 
January 21, 1868). His physiological researches upon the 
development of parts of the skull, are represented by a paper 
for the Zoological Society, while the Introdtiction to the 
Classification of Animals was a reprint this year of the sub- 
stance of six lectures in the first part of the lectures on 
Elementary Comparative Anatomy (1864), which were out of 
print, but still in demand by students. 

As President of the Ethnological Society, he delivered 
an inaugural address " On the Ethnology and Archaeology 
of India," on March 9, and another " On the Ethnology and 
Archaeology of North America," on April 13. As president 
of the Society, moreover, he urged upon the Government 
the advisability of forming a systematic series of photo- 
graphs of the various races comprehended in the British 
Empire, and was officially called upon to offer suggestions 
for carrying out the project This appears to be an ampli- 
fication of Sir Joseph Fayrer's plan in 1866, with respect 
to all the tribes of India (see p. 294, and Appendix I.). 

On April 7 he delivered his " Scientific Education : 
Notes of an After-Dinner Speech " before the Philomathic 
Society at Liverpool (Coll. Ess. iii. 3), one part of which 
deals with the attitude of the clergy towards physical sci- 
ence, and expresses the necessary antagonism between sci- 
ence and Roman Catholic doctrine which appears more 
forcibly in one of his speeches at the School Board in 
1 871 (see p. 384). 


In this and other educational addresses, he had sug- 
gested that one of the best ways of imparting to children a 
preliminary knowledge of the phenomena of nature would 
be a course of what the Germans call " Erdkunde," or gen- 
eral information about the world we live in. It should 
reach from our simplest everyday observations to wide gen- 
eralisations of physical science ; and should supply a back- 
ground for the study of history. To this he gave the name 
" Physiography," a name which he believed to be original, 
until in 1877 his attention was called to the fact that a 
Physiographic' had been published in Paris thirty years 

The idea was no new one with him. Part of his pre- 
liminary lectures at the School of Mines had been devoted 
to something of the kind for the last dozen years ; he had 
served on the Committee of the British Association, ap- 
pointed in 1866 as the result of a paper by the present Dean 
Farrar, then a Harrow master, " On the Teaching of Science 
in the Public Schools," * to report upon the whole question. 
Moreover, in consultation with Dr. Tyndall, he had drawn 
up a scheme in the winter 1868-69, for the science teaching 
in the International College, on the Council of which they 
both were. 

Seven yearly grades were arranged in this scheme, pro- 
ceeding from the simplest account of the phenomena of 
nature taught chiefly by object lessons, largely through the 
elements of Physics and Botany, Chemistry and Human 
Physiology — all illustrated with practical demonstrations — 
to more advanced work in these subjects, as well as in 
Social Science, which embraced not only the theory of 
commerce and government, but the Natural History of Man 
up to the point at which Ethnology and Archaeology touch 

It is interesting to note that the framers of this report 
thought it necessary to point out that one master could not 
teach all these subjects. 

In the three later stages the boys might follow alter- 

♦ See p. 298. 


native lines of study according to their tastes and capacities ; 
but of the earlier part, which was to be obligatory upon all, 
the report says: — ^These four years study, if properly em- 
ployed by the teachers, will constitute a complete prepara- 
tory scientific course. However slight the knowledge of 
details conferred, a wise teacher of any of these subjects will 
be able to make that teaching thorough; and to give the 
scholar a notion of the methods and of the ideas which he 
will meet with in his further progress in all branches of 
physical science. 

In fact, the fundamental principle was to begin with 
Observational Science, facts collected ; to proceed to Classi- 
ficatory Science, facts arranged; and to end with Induc- 
tive Science, facts reasoned upon and laws deduced. 

While he was much occupied with the theoretical and 
practical difficulties of such a scheme of science teaching 
for general use, he was asked by his friend, the Rev. W. 
Rogers of Bishopsgate, if he would not deliver a course of 
lectures on elementary science to boys of the schools in 
which the latter was interested. 

He finally accepted in the following letter, and as the 
result, delivered twelve lectures week by week from April 
to June to a large audience at the London Institution in 
Finsbury Circus, lectures not easily forgotten by the chil- 
dren who listened to them nor by their elders: — 

Jermyn Street, Feb, 5, 1869. 

My dear Rogers — Upon due reflection I am not indisposed 
to undertake the course of lessons we talked about the other 
day, though they will cost me a good deal of trouble in various 
ways, and at a time of the year when I am getting to the end 
of my tether and don't much like trouble. 

But the scheme is too completely in harmony with what (in 
conjunction with Tyndall and others) I have been trying to 
bring about in schools in general — not to render it a great 
temptation to me to try to get it into practical shape. 

All I have to stipulate is that we shall have a clear under- 
standing on the part of the boys and teachers that the discourses 
are to [be] Lessons and not talkee-talkee lectures. I should 
like it to be understood that the boys are to take notes and to 
be examined at the end of the course. Of course I cannot 


undertake to be examiner, but the schools might make some 
arrangement on this point. 

You see my great object is to set going something which can 
be worked in every school in the country in a thorough and 
effectual way, and set an example of the manner in which I 
think this sort of introduction to science ought to be managed. 

Unless this can be done I would rather not embark in a 
project which will involve much labour, worry, and interruption 
to my regular line of work. 

I met Mr. [illegible] last night, and discussed the subject 
briefly with him. — Ever yours very faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

I enclose a sort of rough programme of the kind of thing I 
mean, cut up from a project of instruction for a school about 
which I am now busy. The managers might like to see it. But 
I shall be glad to have it returned. 

These lectures were repeated in November at South 
Kensington Museum, as the first part of a threefold course 
to women on the elements of physical science, and the 
Times reporter naively remarks that under the rather alarm- 
ing name of Physiography, many of the audience were no 
doubt surprised to hear an exceedingly simple and lucid 
description of a river-basin. Want of leisure prevented him 
from bringing out the lectures in book form until November 
1877. When it did appear, however, the book, like his 
other popular works, had a wide sale, and became the fore- 
runner of an immense number of school-books on the 

As President of the Geological Society, he delivered an 
address (Coll. Ess, viii. 305), at the anniversary meeting, 
February 19, upon the " Geological Reform " demanded by 
the considerations advanced by the physicists, as to the age 
of the earth and the duration of life upon it. From the point 
of view of biology he was ready to accept the limits sug- 
gested, provided that the premisses of Sir William Thom- 
son's * argument were shown to be perfectly reliable; but he 
pointed out a number of considerations which might pro- 
foundly modify the results of the isolated causes adduced ; 

* Now Lord Kelvin. • 



and uttered a warning against the possible degradation of 
** a proper reverence for mathematical certainty " into " a 
superstitious respect for all arguments arrived at by process 
of mathematics." * 

At the close of the year, as his own period of office 
came to an end, it was necessary to select a new presi- 
dent of the Geological. He strongly urged Professor 
(afterwards Sir Joseph) Prestwich to stand, and when 
the latter consented, a few weeks, by the way, before 
his marriage was to take place, replied: — 

Jermyn Street, Dec, i6, 1869. 

My dear Prestwich — Many thanks for your letter. Your 
consent to become our President for the next period will give as 
unfeigned satisfaction to the whole body of the Society as it does 
to me and your other personal friends. 

I have looked upon the affair as settled since our last talk, 
and a very great relief it has been to my mind. 

There is no doubt public-dinner speaking (and indeed all 
public speaking) is nervous work. I funk horribly, though I 
never get the least credit for it But it is like swimming, the 
worst of it is in the first plunge ; and after you have taken your 
"header" it's not so bad (just like matrimony, by the way; 
only don't be so mean as to go and tell a certain lady I said so, 
because I want to stand well in her books). 

Of course you may command me in all wa3rs in which I can 
possibly be of use. But as one of the chiefs of the Society, and 
personally and scientifically popular with the whole body, you 
start with an immense advantage over me, and will find no 
difficulties before you. 

We will consider this business formally settled, and I shall 
speak of it officially. — Ever yours very faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

I cannot place the following letter to Matthew Arnold 
with certainty, but it must have been written about this 
period. f Everyone will sympathise with the situation: — 

* See C9II. Ess, viii. Introd. p. 8. 

t The most probable date being 1869, for on July i of that year he 
dined with Matthew Arnold at Harrow. 


26 Abbey PhACR,/ufy 8. 
My dear Arnold— Look at Bishop Wilson on the sin of 
covetousness and then inspect your umbrella stand. You will 
there see a beautiful brown smooth-handled umbrella which is 
not your property. 

Think of what the excellent prelate would have advised 
and bring it with you next time you come to the club. The 
porter will take care of it for me. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The following letter shows how paleontological work 
was continually pouring in upon him : — 

Jermyn Street, Afay 7, 1869. 

My dear Darwin — Do you recollect recommending* that 
the Nassau, which sailed under Capt Mayne's command for 
Magellan's Straits some years ago should explore a fossiliferous 
deposit at the Gallegos River ? 

They visited the place the other day as you will see by Cun- 
ningham's letter which I enclose, and got some fossils which 
are now in my hands. 

The skull to which Cunningham refers, consists of little 
more than the jaws, but luckily nearly all the teeth are in place, 
and prove it to be an entirely new ungulate mammal with teeth 
in uninterrupted series like Anoplotherium, about as big as a 
small horse. 

What a wonderful assemblage of beasts there seems to have 
been in South America ! I suspect if we could find them all they 
would make the classification of the Mammalia into a horrid 
mess. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

And on July 16, 1869, he writes again to Darwin : — 

To tell you the truth, what with fossils, Ethnology and the 
great question of " Darwinismus " which is such a worry to us 
all, I have lost sight of the collectors and naturalists " by grace 
of the dredge," almost as completely as you have. 

Indeed, the pressure was so great that he resolved to 
give up the Hunterian Lectures at the College of Surgeons, 
as he had already given up the FuUerian Professorship at 
the Royal Institution. So he writes to Professor (afterwards 
Sir William) Flower : — 

♦ Sec p. 297. 


Jermyn Street, yirii^ 7, 1869. 

Private, Confidential, Particular. 

My dear Flower — I have written to Quain * to tell him that 
I do not propose to be put in nomination for the Hunterian Chair 
this year. I really cannot stand it with the British Association 
hanging over my head. So make thy shoulders ready for the 
gown, and practise the goose-step in order to march properly 
behind the mace, and I will come and hear your inaugural. — 
Ever yours, T. H. Huxley. 

The meeting of the Association to which he refers took 
place at Exeter, and he writes of it to Darwin (September 


As usual, your abominable heresies were the means of get- 
ting me into all sorts of hot water at the Association. Three 
parsons set upon you, and if you were the most malicious of 
men you could not have wished them to have made greater fools 
of themselves than they did. They got considerably chaffed, 
and that was all they were worth.f 

And to Tyndall, whom an accident had kept in Switzer- 
land : — 

After a sharp fight for Edinburgh, Liverpool was adopted 
as the place of meeting for the Association of 1870, and I am 
to be President; although the Times says that my best friends 
tremble for me. (I hope you are not among that particular lot 
of my best friends.) 

I think we shall have a good meeting, and you know you are 
pledged to give a lecture even if you come with your leg in 
a sling. 

The foundation of the Metaphysical Society in 1869 was 
not without interest as a sign of the times. As in the new 
birth of thought which put a period to the Middle Ages, 
so in the Victorian Renaissance, a vast intellectual ferment 
had taken immediate shape in a fierce struggle with long 

♦ President of the Royal College of Surgeons. 

t It is perhaps scarcely worth while exhuming these long-forgotten 
arguments in their entirety ; but anyone curious enough to consult 
the report of the meeting preserved in the files of the Academy, will 
find, among other things, an entirely novel theory as to the relation 
of the Cherubim to terrestrial creation. 


established orthodoxy. But whereas Luther displaced 
Erasmus, and the earlier reformers fought out the quarrel 
with the weapons of the theologian rather than those of the 
Humanist, the latter-day reformation was based upon the 
extension of the domain of positive science, upon the force 
of historical criticism, and the sudden reorganisation of ac- 
cumulated knowledge in the light of a physical theory 
adequate to explain it 

These new facts and the new or re-vivified theories based 
upon them, remained to be reckoned with after the first 
storm of denunciation had passed by, and the meeting at 
Sion House in 1867* showed that some at least of the 
English clergy besides Colenso and Stanley wished to under- 
stand the real meaning of the new movement. Although 
the wider effect of the scientific revival in modifying theo- 
logical doctrine was not yet fully apparent, the irreconcila- 
bles grew fewer and less noisy, while the injustice of their 
attempts to stifle the new doctrine and to ostracise its sup- 
porters became more glaring. 

Thus among the supporters of the old order of thought, 
there was one section more or less ready to learn of the 
new. Another, seeing that the doctrines of which they were 
firmly convinced were thrust aside by the rapid advance 
of the new school, thought, as men not unnaturally think 
in the like situation, that the latter did not duly weigh what 
was said on their side. Hence this section eagerly entered 
into the proposal to found a society which should bring to- 
gether men of diverse views, and effect, as they hoped, by 
personal discussion of the great questtions at issue, in the 
manner and with the machinery of the learned societies, a 
rapprochement unattainable by written debate. 

The scheme was first propounded by Mr. James Knowles, 
then editor of the Contemporary Review^ now of the Nine- 
teenth Century, in conversation with Tennyson and Profess- 
or Pritchard (Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford). 

Thus the Society came to be composed of men of the 
most opposite ways of thinking and of very various occupa- 

♦ See p. 325. 


tions in life. The largest group was that of* churchmen : — 
ecclesiastical dignitaries such as Thompson, the Archbishop 
of York, Ellicott, Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol, and 
Dean Alford ; staunch laymen such as Mr. Gladstone, Lord 
Selbome, and the Duke of Argyll ; while the liberal school 
was represented by Dean Stanley, F. D. Maurice, and Mark 
Pattison. Three distinguished converts from the English 
Church championed Roman Catholic doctrine — Cardinal 
Manning, Father Dalgaims, and W. G. Ward, while Uni- 
tarianism claimed Dr. James Martineau. At the opposite 
pole, in antagonism to Christian theology and theism gener- 
ally, stood Professor W. K. Clifford, whose youthful bril- 
liancy was destined to be cut short by an untimely death. 
Positivism was represented by Mr. Frederic Harrison ; and 
Agnosticism by such men of science or letters as Huxley 
and Tyndall, Mr. John Morley, and Mr. Leslie Stephen. 

Something was gained, too, by the variety Df callings 
followed by the different members. While there were pro- 
fessional students of philosophy, like Prof. Henry Sidgwick 
or Sir Alexander Grant, the Principal of Edinburgh Univer- 
sity, in some the technical knowledge of philosophy was 
overlaid by studies in history or letters; in others, by the 
practical experience of the law or politics ; in others, again, 
medicine or biology supplied a powerful psychological in- 
strument. This fact tended to keep the discussions in touch 
with reality on many sides. 

There was Tennyson, for instance, the only poet who 
thoroughly understood the movement of modem science, a 
stately but silent member; Mr. Ruskin, J. A. Froude, 
Shadworth Hodgson, R. H. Hutton of the Spectator, James 
Hinton, and the well-known essayist, W. R. Greg; Sir 
James Fitzjames Stephen, Sir F. Pollock, Robert Lowe 
(Lord Sherbrooke), Sir M. E. Grant Duff, and Lord Arthur 
Russell ; Sir John Lubbock, Dr. W. B. Carpenter, Sir Wil- 
liam Gull, and Sir Andrew Clark. 

Of contemporary thinkers of the first rank, neither John 
Stuart Mill nor Mr. Herbert Spencer joined the society. 
The letter of the former declining the invitation to join 
(given in the Life of W. G. Ward, p. 299) is extremely 


characteristic. He considers the object of the projectors 
very laudable, " but it is very doubtful whether it will be 
realised in practice." The undoubted advantages of oral 
discussion on such questions are, he continues, best realised 
if undertaken in the manner of the Socratic dialogue, be- 
tween one and one ; but less so in a mixed assembly. He 
therefore did not think himself justified in joining the so- 
ciety at the expense of other occupations for which his time 
was already engaged. And he concludes by defending him- 
self against the charge of not paying fair attention to the 
arguments of his opponents. 

It followed from the composition of the society that the 
papers read were less commonly upon technical questions of 
metaphysics, such as " Matter and Force " or " The Relation 
of Will to Thought," than upon those of more vivid moral or 
religious interest, such as " What is Death ? " " The Theory 
of a Soul," " The Ethics of Belief," or " Is God Unknow- 
able," in which wide scope was given to the emotions as 
well as the intellect of each disputant. 

The method of the Society was for the paper to be 
printed and circulated among the members before the 
meeting, so that their main criticisms were ready in advance. 
The discussions took place after a dinner at which many of 
the members would appear ; and if the more formal debates 
were not more effectual than predicted by J. S. Mill, the 
informal discussions, almost conversations, at smaller meet- 
ings, and the free course of talk at the dinner table, did 
something to realise the primary objects of the society. 
The personal rapprochement took place, but not philosophic 
compromise or conversion. Whether or not the tone 
adopted after this period by the clerical party at large was 
affected by the better understanding on the part of their 
representatives in the Metaphysical Society of the true aims 
of their opponents and the honest and substantial difficulties 
which stood in the way of reunion, it is true that the violent 
denunciations of the sixties decreased in number and inten- 
sity; the right to free expression of reasoned opinion on 
serious fact was tacitly acknowledged; and, being less 
attacked, Huxley himself began to be regarded in the light 



of a teacher rather than an iconoclast. The question began 
to be not whether such opinions are wicked, but whether 
from the point of view of scientific method they are irre- 
fragably true. 

The net philosophical result of the society's work was 
to distinguish the essential and the unessential differences 
between the opposite parties ; the latter were to a great ex- 
tent cleared up ; but the former remained all the more clearly 
defined in logical nakedness for the removal of the side 
issues and the personal idiosyncrasies which often obscured 
the main issues. Indeed, when this point was reached by 
both parties, when the origins and consequences of the 
fundamental principles on either side had been fully dis- 
cussed and mutual misunderstandings removed to the ut- 
most, so that only the fundamentals themselves remained 
in debate, there was nothing left to be done. The so- 
ciety, in fact, as Huxley expressed it, " died of too much 

Indeed, it is to be noticed that, despite the strong an- 
tagonism of principle and deductions from principle which 
existed among the members, the rule of mutual toleration 
was well kept. The state of feeling after ten years' open 
struggle seemed likely to produce active collision between 
representatives of the opposing schools at close quarters. 
" We all thought it would be a case of Kilkenny cats," said 
Huxley many years afterwards. " Hats and coats would be 
left in the hall, but there would be no owners left to put 
them on again." But only one flash of the sort was elicited. 
One of the speakers at an early meeting insisted on the 
necessity of avoiding anything like moral disapprobation 
in the debates. There was a pause ; then W. G. Ward said : 
" While acquiescing in this condition as a general rule, I 
think it cannot be expected that Christian thinkers shall 
give no sign of the horror with which they would view 
the spread of such extreme opinions as those advocated 
by Mr. Huxley." Another pause ; then Huxley, thus chal- 
lenged, replied: "As Dr. Ward has spoken, I must in 
fairness say that it will be very difficult for me to con- 
ceal my feeling as to the intellectual degradation 


would come of the general acceptance of such views as 
Dr. Ward holds." * 

No amount of argument could have been more effectual 
in supporting the claim for mutual toleration than these two 
speeches, and thenceforward such forms of criticism were 
conspicuous by their absence. And where honesty of con- 
viction was patent, mutual toleration was often replaced by 
personal esteem and regard. " Charity, brotherly love," 
writes Huxley, " were the chief traits of the Society. We all 
expended so much charity, that, had it been money, we 
should every one have been bankrupt." 

The special part played in the society by Huxley was to 
show that many of the axioms of current speculation are far 
from being axiomatic, and that dogmatic assertion on some 
of the cardinal points of metaphysic is unwarranted by the 
evidence of fact. To find these seeming axioms set aside 
as unproven, was, it appears from his Life, disconcerting to 
such members of the society as Cardinal Manning, whose 
arguments depended on the unquestioned acceptance of 
them. It was no doubt the observation of a similar attitude 
of mind in Mr. Gladstone towards metaphysical problems 
which provoked Huxley to reply, when asked whether Mr. 
Gladstone was an expert metaphysician — "An expert in 
metaphysics ? He docs not know the meaning of the word." 

In addition to his share in the discussions, Huxley con- 
tributed three papers to the society. The first, read Novem- 
ber 17, 1869, was on " The views of Hume, Kant, and 
Whately on the logical basis of the doctrine of the Immor- 
tality of the Soul," showing that these thinkers agreed in 
holding that no such basis is given by reasoning, apart, for 
instance, from revelation. A summary of the argument 
appears in the essay on Hume {CoU, Ess, vi. 201, sq.). 

On November 8, 1870, he read a paper, " Has a Frog 
a Soul ? and if so, of what Nature is that Soul ? " Experi- 
ment shows that a frog deprived of consciousness and 
volition by the removal of the front part of its brain, will, 
under the action of various stimuli, perform many acts 

♦ Zifi of W. G, Ward, by Wilfrid Ward, p. 309. 


which can only be called purposive, such as moving to 
recover its balance when the board on which it stands is 
inclined, or scratching where it is made uncomfortable, or 
croaking when pressed in a particular spot If its spinal 
cord be severed, the lower limbs, disconnected from the 
brain, will also perform actions of this kind. The question 
arises, Is the frog entirely a soulless automaton, performing 
all its actions directly in response to external stimuli, only 
more perfectly and with more delicate adjustment when its 
brain remains intact, or is its soul distributed along its 
spinal marrow, so that it can be divided into two parts inde- 
pendent of one another? 

The professed metaphysician might perhaps tend to 
regard such consideration as irrelevant ; but if the starting- 
point of metaphysics is to be found in psychology, psychol- 
ogy itself depends to no small extent upon physiology. 
This question, however, Huxley did not pretend to solve. 
In the existing state of knowledge he believed it to be in- 
soluble. But he thought it was not without its bearing 
upon the supposed relations of soul and body in the human 
subject, and should serve to give pause to current theories 
on the matter. 

His third paper, read January ii, 1876, was on the 
" Evidence of the Miracle of the Resurrection," in which he 
argued that there was no valid evidence of actual death 
having taken place. His rejection of the miraculous had 
led to an invitation from some of his opponents in the 
society to write a paper on a definite miracle, and explain 
his reasons for not accepting it His choice of subject was 
due to two reasons: firstly, it was a cardinal instance; 
t secondly, it was a miracle not worked by Christ Himself, 
and therefore a discussion of its genuineness could offer no 
suggestion of personal fraud, and hence would avoid in- 
flicting g^tuitous pain upon believers in it. 

This certainty that there exist many questions at present 
insoluble, upon which it is intellectually, and indeed morally 
wrong to assert that we have real knowledge, had long been 
with him, but, although he had earned abundant odium by 
openly resisting the claims of dogmatic authority, he had 


not been compelled to define his philosophical position until 
he entered the Metaphysical Society. How he came to 
enrich the English language with the name " Agnostic " is 
explained in his article "Agnosticism" (Coll. Ess. v. pp. 

237-239). . ^ . t.. . . 

After describing how it came about that his mind 

" steadily gravitated towards the conclusions of Hume and 

Kant," so well stated by the latter as follows : — 

The greatest and perhaps the sole use of all philosophy of 
pure reason is, after all, merely negative, since it serves not as 
an organon for the enlargement (of knowledge), but as a dis- 
cipline for its delimitation; and, instead of discovering truth, 
has only the modest merit of preventing error : — 

he proceeds — 

When I reached intellectual maturity, and began to ask 
myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist ; a ma- 
terialist or an idealist; a Christian or a freethinker; I found 
that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the 
answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had 
neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the 
last The one thing in which most of these good people were 
agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They 
were quite sure they had attained a certain "gnosis" — had, 
more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence ; while 
I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction 
that the problem was insoluble. And, witji Hume and Kant 
on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding 
fast by that opinion. . . . 

This was my situation when I had the good fortune to find a 
place among the members of that remarkable confraternity of 
antagonists, long since deceased, but of green and pious memory, 
the Metaphysical Society. Every variety of philosophical and 
theological opinion was represented there, and expressed itself 
with entire openness; most of my colleagues were -ists of one 
sort or another; and, however kind and friendly they might be, 
I, the man without a rag of a label to cover himself with, could 
not fail to have some of the uneasy feelings which must have 
beset the historical fox when, after leaving the trap in which 
his tail remained, he presented himself to his normally elongated 
companions. So I took thought, and invented what I conceived 


to be the appropriate title of "agnostic." It came into my 
head as suggestively antithetic to the " gnostic " of Church his- 
tory, who professed to know so much about the very things of 
which I was ignorant; and I took the earliest opportunity of 
parading it at our Society, to show that I, too, had 9 tail, like 
the other foxes. To my great satisfaction, the term took; and 
when the Spectator had stood godfather to it, any suspicion in 
the minds of respectable people that a knowledge of its parent- 
age might have awakened was, of course, completely lulled. 

As for the dialectical powers he displayed in the de- 
bates, it was generally acknowledged that in this, as well 
as in the power of conducting a debate, he shared the pre- 
eminence with W. G. Ward. Indeed, a proposal was made 
that the perpetual presidency in alternate years should be 
vested in these two; but time and health forbade. 

His part in the debates is thus described in a letter to 
me from Professor Henry Sidgwick : — 

Dear Mr. Huxley — I became a member of the Metaphysical 
Society, I think, at its first meeting in 1869; ^^^* though my 
engagements in Cambridge did not allow me to attend regularly, 
I retain a very distinct recollection of the part taken by your 
father in the debates at which we were present together. There 
were several members of the Society with whose philosophical 
views I had, on the whole, more sympathy; but there was cer- 
tainly no one to whom I found it more pleasant and more in- 
structive to listen. Indeed I soon came to the conclusion that 
there was only one other member of our Society who could 
be placed on a par with him as a debater, on the subjects dis- 
cussed at our meetings ; and that was, curiously enough, a man 
of the most diametrically opposite opinions — W. G. Ward, the 
well-known advocate of Ultramontanism. Ward was by train- 
ing, and perhaps by nature, more of a dialectician; but your 
father was unrivalled in the clearness, precision, succinctness, 
and point of his statements, in his complete and ready grasp 
of his own system of philosophical thought, and the quickness 
and versatility with which his thought at once assumed the right 
attitude of defence against any argument coming from any 
quarter. I used to think that while others of us could perhaps 
find, on the spur of the moment, an answer more or less eflFective 
to some unexpected attack, your father seemed always able to 
find the answer — I mean the answer that it was reasonable to 


give, consistently with his general view, and much the same 
answer that he would have given if he had been allowed the 
fullest time for deliberation. 

The general tone of the Metaphysical Society was one of 
extreme consideration for the feelings of opponents, and your 
father's speaking formed no exception to the general harmony. 
At the same time I seem to remember him as the most com- 
bative of all the speakers who took a leading part in the debates. 
His habit of never wasting words, and the edge naturally given 
to his remarks by his genius for clear and effective statement, 
partly account for this impression; still I used to think that he 
liked fighting, and occasionally liked to give play to his sarcastic 
humour — ^though always strictly within the limits imposed by 
courtesy. I remember that on one occasion when I had read to 
the Society an essay on the " Incoherence of Empiricism," I 
looked forward with some little anxiety to his criticisms; and 
when they came, I felt that my anxiety had not been superfluous ; 
he " went for " the weak points of my argument in half a dozen 
trenchant sentences, of which I shall not forget the impression. 
It was hard hitting, though perfectly courteous and fair. 

I wish I could remember what he said, but the memory of all 
the words uttered in these debates has now vanished from my 
mind, though I recall vividly the general impression that I have 
tried briefly to put down. — Believe me, yours very truly, 

Henry Sidgwick. 


With the year 1870 comes another turning-point in 
Huxley's career. From his return to England in 1850 till 
1854 he had endured four years of hard struggle, of hope 
deferred ; his reputation as a zoologist had been established 
before his arrival, and was more than confirmed by his 
personal energy and power. When at length settled in the 
professorship at Jermyn Street, he was so far from thinking 
himself more than a beginner who had learned to work in 
one comer of the field of knowledge, still needing deep 
research into all kindred subjects in order to know the true 
bearings of his own little portion, that he treated the next 
six years simply as years of further apprenticeship. Under 
the suggestive power of the Origin of Species all these scat- 
tered studies fell suddenly into due rank and order; the 
philosophic unity he had so long been seeking inspired his 
thought with tenfold vigour, and the battle at Oxford in 
defence of the new h)rpothesis first brought him before the 
public eye as one who not only had the courage of his con- 
victions when attacked, but could, and more, would, carry 
the war effectively into the enemy's country. And for the 
next ten years he was commonly identified with the cham- 
pionship of the most unpopular view of the time ; a fighter, 
an assailant of long-established fallacies, he was too often 
considered a mere iconoclast, a subverter of every other 
well-rooted institution, theological, educational, or moral. 

It is difficult now to realise with what feelings he was 
regarded in the average respectable household in the sixties 
and early seventies. His name was anathema; he was a 

i870 LAY SERMONS 347 

terrible example of intellectual pravity beyond redemption, a 
man with opinions such as cannot be held " without grave 
personal sin on his part " (as was once said of Mill by W. 
G. Ward, see p. 451), the representative in his single person 
of rationalism, materialism, atheism, or if there be any more 
abhorrent "ism" — in token of which as late as 1892 an 
absurd zealot at the headquarters of the Salvation Army 
crowned an abusive letter to him at Eastbourne by the 
statement, " I hear you have a local reputation as a Brad- 

But now official life began to lay closer hold upon him. 
He came forward also as a leader in the struggle for edu- 
cational reform, seeking not only to perfect his own bio- 
logical teaching, but to show, in theory and practice, how 
scientific training might be introduced into the general sys- 
tem of education. He was more than once asked to stand 
for Parliament, but refused, thinking he could do more 
useful work for his country outside. 

The publication in 1870 of Lay Sermons ^ the first of a 
series of similar volumes, served, by concentrating his moral 
and intellectual philosophy, to make his influence as a 
teacher of men more widely felt. The " active scepticism," 
whose conclusions many feared, was yet acknowledged as 
the quality of mind which had made him one of the clearest 
thinkers and safest scientific guides of his time, while his 
keen sense of right and wrong made the more reflective of 
those who opposed his conclusions hesitate long before ex- 
pressing a doubt as to the good influence of his writings. 
This view is very clearly expressed in a review of the book 
in the Nation (New York, 1870, xi. 407). 

And as another review of the Lay Sermons puts it 
{Nature, iii. 22), he began to be made a kind of popular 
oracle, yet refused to prophesy smooth things. 

During the earlier period, with more public demands 
made upon him than upon most men of science of his age 
and standing, with the burden of four Royal Commissions 
and increasing work in learned societies in addition to his 
regular lecturing and official paleontological work, and the 
many addresses and discourses in which he spread abroad in 


the popular mind the leaven of new ideas upon nature and 
education- and the progress of thought, he was still con- 
stantly at work on biological researches of his own, many 
of which took shape in the Hunterian lectures at the College 
of Surgeons from 1863-1870. But from 1870 onward, the 
time he would spare to such research grew less and less. 
For eight years he was continuously on one Koyal Com- 
mission after another. His administrative work on learned 
societies continued to increase; in 1869-70 he held the 
presidency of the Ethnological Society, with a view to 
effecting the amalgamation with the Anthropological, " the 
plan," as he calls it, " for uniting the Societies which occupy 
themselves with man (that excludes " Society " which occu- 
pies itself chiefly with woman)." He became president of 
the Geological Society in 1872, and for nearly ten years, 
from 1871 to 1880, he was secretary of the Royal Society, 
an office which occupied no small portion of his time and 
thought, " for he had formed a very high ideal of the duties 
of the Society as the head of science in this country, and 
was determined that it should not at least fall short through 
any lack of exertion on his part " (Sir M. Foster, R. S. 
Obit. Not.).* 

The year 1870 itself was one of the busiest he had ever 
known. He published one biological and four paleonto- 
logical memoirs, and sat on two Royal Commissions, one 
on the Contagious Diseases Acts, the other on Scientific 
Instruction, which continued until 1875. 

The three addresses which he gave in the autumn, and 
his election to the School Board will be spoken of later ; in 
the first part of the year he read two papers at the Ethno- 
logical Society, of which he .was president, on " The Geo- 
graphical Distribution of the Chief Modifications of Man- 
kind," March 9 — ^and on " The Ethnology of Britain," May 
10 — ^the substance of which appeared in the Contemporary 
Review for July under the title of " Some Fixed Points in 
British Ethnology " (Coll. Ess. vii. 253). As president also 
of the Geological Society and of the British Association, 

♦ See Appendix II. 


he had two important addresses to deliver. In addition to 
this, he delivered an address before the Y.M.C.A. at Cam- 
bridge on " Descartes' Discourse." 

How busy he was may be gathered from his refusal of 
an invitation to Down : — 

26 Abbey Place. /a». 21, 1870. 

My dear Darwin — It is hard to resist an invitation of yours 
— ^but I dine out on Saturday ; and next week three evenings are 
abolished by Societies of one kind or another. And there is 
that horrid Geological address looming in the future I 

I am afraid I must deny myself at present. 

I am glad you liked the sermon. Did you see the " Devon- 
shire man's " attack in the Pall MdUT 

I have been wasting my time in polishing that worthy off. I 
would not have troubled myself about him, if it were not for the 
political bearing of the Celt question just now. 

My wife sends her love to all you. — Ever yours, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The reference to the " Devonshire Man " is as follows : — 
Huxley had been speaking of the strong similarity between 
Gaul and German, Celt and Teuton, before the change of 
character brought about by the Latin conquest ; and of the 
similar commixture, a dash of Anglo-Saxon in the mass of 
Celtic, which prevailed in our western borders and many 
parts of Ireland, e.g. Tipperary. 

The " Devonshire Man " wrote on Jan. 18 to the Pall 
Mall Gazette, objecting to the statement that " Devonshire 
men are as little Anglo-Saxons as Northumbrians are 
Welsh." Huxley replied on the 21st, meeting his historical 
arguments with citations from Freeman, and especially by 
completing his opponent's quotation from Caesar, to show 
that under certain conditions, the Gaul was indistinguishable 
from the German. The assertion that the Anglo-Saxon 
character is midway between the pure French or Irish and 
the Teutonic, he met with the previous question, " Who is 
the pure Frenchman ? Picard, Provencal, or Breton ? or the 
pure Irish? Milesian, Firbolg, or Cruithneach ? " 

But the " Devonshire Man " did not confine himself to 
science. He indulged in various personalities, to the smart- 



est of which, a parody of Sydney Smith's dictum on Dr. 
Whewell, Huxley replied : — 

" A- Devonshire Man" is good enough to say of me that 
''cutting up monkeys is his forte, and cutting up men is his 
foible." With your permission, I propose to cut up " A Devon- 
shire Man " ; but I leave it to the public to judge whether, when 
so employed, my occupation is to be referred to the former or 
to the latter category. 

For this he was roundly lectured by the Spectator on 
January 29, in an article under the heading " Pope Huxley." 
Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the controversy, he 
was chidden for the abusive language of the above para- 
graph, and told that he was a very good anatomist, but had 
better not enter into discussions on other subjects. 

The same question is developed in the address to the 
Ethnological Society later in the year and in " Some Fixed 
Points in British Ethnology " (Contemporary Review, 1871), 
and reiterated in an address from the chair in Section D 
at the British Association in 1878 at Dublin, and in a letter 
to the Times for October 12, 1887, apropos of a leading 
article upon " British Race-types of To-day." 

Letter-writing was difficult under such pressure of work, 
but the claims of absent friends were not wholly forgotten, 
though left on one side for a time, and the warm-hearted 
Dohm, who could not bear to think himself forgotten, man- 
aged to get a letter out of him — ^not on scientific business. 

26 Abbey Place, /an. 30, 1870. 

My dear Dohrn — In one sense I deserve all the hard things 
you may have said and thought about me, for it is really scandal- 
ous and indefensible that I have not written to you. But in 
another sense, I do not, for I have very often thought about you 
and your doings, and as I have told you once before, your 
memory always remains green in the " happy family." 

But what between the incessant pressure of work and an 
inborn aversion to letter-writing, I become a worse and worse 
correspondent the longer I live, and unless I can find one or 
two friends who will [be] content to bear with my infirmities 
and believe that however long before we meet, I shall be ready 
to take them up again exactly where I left off, I shall be a 
friendless old man. 


As for your old Goethe, you are mistaken. The Scripture 
says that " a living dog is better than a dead lion," and I am a 
living dog. By the way I bought Cotta's edition of him the 
other day, and there he stands on my bookcase in all the glory of 
gilt, black, and marble edges. Do you know I did a version of his 
Aphorisms on Nature into English the other day.* It astonishes 
the British Philistines not a little. When they began to read it 
they thought it was mine, and that I had suddenly gone mad ! ' 

But to return to your aflFairs instead of my own. I received 
your volume on the Arthropods the other day, but I shall not be 
able to look at it for the next three weeks, as I am in the midst of 
my lectures, and have an annual address to deliver to the Geo- 
logical Society on the i8th February, when, I am happy to say, 
my tenure of office as President expires. 

After that I shall be only too glad to plunge into your doings 
and, as always, I shall follow your work with the heartiest in- 
terest But I wish you would not take it into your head that 
Darwin or I, or anyone else thinks otherwise than high|^ of 
you, or that you need " re-establishing " in any one's eyes. But 
I hope you will not have finished your work before the autumn, 
as they have made me President of the British Association this 
year, and I shall be very busy with my address in the summer. 
The meeting is to take place in Liverpool on the 14th September, 
and I live in hope that you will be able to come over. Let me 
know if you can, that I may secure you good quarters. 

I shall ask the wife to fill up the next half sheet. But for 
Heaven's sake don't be angry with me in English again. It's 
far worse than a scolding in Deutsch, and I have as little for- 
gotten my German as I have my German friends. 

On February 18 he delivered his farewell address f to the 
Geological Society, on laying down the office of President. 
He took the opportunity to revise his address to the society 
in 1862, and pointed out the growth of evidence in favour 
of the evolution theory, and in particular traced the paleon- 
tological history of the horse, through a series of fossil types 
approaching more and more to a generalised ungulate type 
and reaching back to a three-toed ancestor, or collateral of 
such an ancestor, itself possessing rudiments of the two other 
toes which appertain to the average quadruped. 

♦ For the first number of Nature^ November 1869. 

t ** Paleontology and the Doctrine of Evolution," ColL Ess. viil. 



If (he said) the expectation raised by the splints of the 
horses that, in some ancestor of the horses, these splints would 
be found to be complete digits, has been verified, we are fur- 
nished with very strong reasons for looking for a no less com- 
plete verification of the expectation that the three-toed Plagio- 
lophus-likc "avus" of the horse must have been a five-toed 
" atavus " at some early period. 

Six years afterwards, this forecast of paleontological re-» 
search was to be fulfilled, but at the expense of the European 
ancestry of the horse. A series of ancestors, similar to these 
European fossils, but still more equine, and extending in 
unbroken order much farther back in geological time, was 
discovered in America. His use of this in his New York 
lectures as demonstrative evidence of evolution, and the im- 
mediate fulfilment of a further prophecy of his will be told 
in due course. 

His address to the Cambridge Y.M.C.A., " A Commen- 
tary on Descartes' * Discourse touching the method of using 
reason rightly, and of seeking scientific truth,' " was deliv- 
ered on March 24. This was an attempt to g^ve this dis- 
tinctively Christian audience some vision of the world of 
science and philosophy, which is neither Christian nor Un- 
christian, but Extra-christian, and to show " by what meth- 
ods the dwellers therein try to distinguish truth from false- 
hood, in regard to some of the deepest and most difficult 
problems that beset humanity, " in order to be clear about 
the actions, and to walk sure-footedly in this life," as Des- 
cartes says. For Descartes had laid the foundation of his 
own guiding principle of " active scepticism, which strives 
to conquer itself." 

Here again, as in the Physical Basis of Life, but with 
more detail, he explains how far materialism is legfitimate, 
is, in fact, a sort of shorthand idealism. This essay, too, 
contains the often-quoted passage, apropos of the " intro- 
duction of Calvinism into science." 

I protest that if some great Power would agree to make me 
always think what is true and do what is right, on condition of 
being turned into a sort of clock and wound up every morning 
before I got out of bed, I should instantly close with the offer. 


The only freedom I care about is the freedom to do right; the 
freedom to do wrong I am ready to part with on the cheapest 
terms to any one who will take it of me. 

This was the latest of the essays included in Lay Ser- 
mons, Addresses and Reviews, which came out, with a dedi- 
catory letter to Tyndall, in the summer of 1870, and, whether 
on account of its subject matter or its title, always remained 
his most popular volume of essays. 

To the same period belongs a letter to Matthew Arnold 
about his book St. Paul and Protestantism. 

My dear Arnold— Many thanks for your book which I have 
been diving into at odd times as leisure served, and picking up 
many good things. 

One of the best is what you say near the end about science 
gradually conquering the materialism of popular religion. 

It will startle the Puritans who always coolly put the matter 
the other way; but it is profoundly true. 

These people are for the most part mere idolaters with a 
Bible- fetish, who urgently stand in need of conversion. by Extra- 
christian Missionaries. 

It takes all one's practical experience of the importance of 
Puritan ways of thinking to overcome one's feeling of the un- 
reality of their beliefs. I had pretty well forgotten how real to 
them " the man in the next street " is, till your citation of their 
horribly absurd dogmas reminded me of it. If you can persuade 
them that Paul is fairly interpretable in your sense, it may be 
the beginning of better things, but I have my doubts if Paul 
would own you, if he could return to expound his own epistles. 

I am glad you like my Descartes article. My business with 
my scientific friends is something like yours with the Puritans, 
nature being our Paul. — Ever yours very faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 
26 Abbey Place, May 10, 1870. 

From the 14th to the 24th of April Huxley, accom- 
panied by his friend Hooker, made a trip to the Eifel 
country. His sketch-book is full of rapid sketches of the 
country, many of them geological ; one day indeed there are 
eight, another nine such. 

Tyndall was invited to join the party, and at first ac- 
cepted, but then recollected the preliminaries which had to 



be carried out before his lectures on electricity at the end 
of the month. So he writes on April 6 : — 

Royal Institution, 6 ApriL 

My dear Huxley — I was rendered drunk by the excess of 
prospective pleasure when you mentioned the Eifel yesterday, 
and took no account of my lectures. They begin on the 28th, 
and I have studiously to this hour excluded them from my 
thought. I have made arrangements to see various experiments 
involving the practical application of electricity before the lec- 
tures begin ; I find myself, in short, cut off from the expedition. 
My regret on this score is commensurable with the pleasures I 
promised myself. Confound the lectures ! 

And yours * on Friday is creating a pretty hubbub already. 
I am torn to pieces by women in search of tickets. Anything 
that touches progenitorship interests them. You will have a 
crammed house I doubt not. — Yours ever, 

John Tyndall. 

Huxley replied : — 

Geological Survey of England and Wales, 
April 6, 1870. 
My dear Tyndall — 


s. T. H. H. 

That's a practical application of electricity for you. 

In June he writes to his wife, who had taken a sick 
child to the seaside: — 

I hear a curious rumour (which is not for circulation), that 
Froude and I have been proposed for D.C.L.'s at Commemora- 
tion, and that the proposition has been bitterly and strongly 
opposed by Pusey.f They say there has been a regular row in 

* On the Pedigree of the Horse, April 8, 1870. which was never 
brought out in book form. 

t Huxley ultimately received his D.C.L. in 1885. 


Oxford about it. I suppose this is at the bottom of Jowett's not 
writing to me. But I hope that he won't fancy that I should be 
disgusted at the opposition and object to come li,e. to pay his 
regular visit to Balliol]. On the contrary, the more complete 
Pusey's success, the more desirable it is that I should show my 
face there. Altogether it is an awkward position, as I am sup- 
posed to know nothing of what is going on. 

The situation is further developed in a letter to Dar- 
win: — 

Jermyn Street, /««^ 22, 1870. 

My dear Darwin — I sent the books to Queen Anne St. this 
morning. Pray keep them as long as you like, as I am not using 

I am greatly disgusted that you are coming up to London 
this week, as we shall be out of town next Sunday. It is the 
rarest thing in the world for us to be away, and you have pitched 
upon the one day. Cannot we arrange some other day ? 

I wish you could have gone to Oxford, not for your sake, 
but for theirs. There seems to have been a tremendous shindy 
in the Hebdomadal board about certain persons who were pro- 
posed; and I am told that Pusey came to London to ascertain 
from a trustworthy friend who were the blackest heretics out 
of the list proposed, and that he was glad to assent to your 
being doctored, when he got back, in order to keep out seven 
devils worse than that first ! 

Ever, oh Coryphaeus diabolicus, your faithful follower, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The choice of a subject for his Presidential Address at 
the British Association for 1870, a subject which, as he put 
it, " has lain chiefly in a land flowing with the abominable, 
and peopled with mere grubs and mouldiness," was sug- 
gested by a recent controversy upon the origin of life, in 
which the experiments of Dr. Bastian, then Professor of 
Pathological Anatomy at University College, London, which 
seemed to prove spontaneous generation, were shown by 
Professor Tyndall to contain a flaw. Huxley had naturally 
been deeply interested from the first ; he had been consulted 
by Dr. Bastian, and, I believe, had advised him not to pub- 
lish until he had made quite sure of his ground. This ques- 
tion and the preparation of the course of Elementary Biol- 


ogy * led him to carry on a series of investigations lasting 
over two years, which took shape in a paper upon " Peni- 
cillium, Torula, and Bacterium," f ^^^ read in Section D 
at the British Association, 1870; and in his article on 
" Yeast " in the Contemporary Review for December 1872. 
He laboriously repeated Pasteur's experiments, and for 
years a quantity of flasks and cultures used in this work 
remained at South Kensington, until they were destroyed 
in the eighties. Of this work Sir J. Hooker writes to 
him: — 

You have made an immense leap in the association of forms, 
and I cannot but suppose you approach the final solution. . . . 

I have always fancied that it was rather brains and boldness, 
than eyes or microscopes that the mycologists wanted, and that 
there was more brains in Berkeley's J crude discoveries than in 
the very best of the French and German microscopic verifica- 
tions of them, who filch away the credit of them from under 
Berkeley's nose, and pooh-pooh his reasoning, but for which 
we should be, as we were. 

In his Presidential Address, " Biogenesis and Abiogene- 
sis " (Coll. Ess. viii. p. 229), he discussed the rival theories 
of spontaneous generation and the universal derivation of 
life from precedent life, and professed his belief, as an act 
of philosophic faith, that at some remote period, life had 
arisen out of inanimate matter, though there was no evi- 
dence that anything of the sort had occurred recently, the 
germ theory explaining many supposed cases of spontaneous 
generation. The history of the subject, indeed, showed " the 
great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hy- 
pothesis by an ugly fact — which is so constantly being 
enacted under the eyes of philosophers," and recalled the 
warning " that it is one thing to refute a proposition, and 
another to prove the truth of a doctrine which, implicitly 
or explicitly, contradicts that proposition." 

Two letters to Dr. Dohm refer to this address and to 
the meeting of the Association. 

* See p. 405, x^^. t Quart. Journ. After. Set., 1870, x. pp. 355-362. 
X Rev. W. F. Berkeley. 


Jermyn Street, April 30, 1870. 

My dear Whirlwind— I have received your two letters; 
and I was just revolving in my mind how best to meet your 
wishes in regard to the very important project mentioned in 
the first, when the second arrived and put me at rest. 

I hope I need not say how heartily I enter into all your 
views, and how glad I shall be to see your plan for " Stations " * 
carried into effect. Nothing could have a greater influence upon 
the progress of zoology. 

A plan was set afoot here some time ago to establish a great 
marine Aquarium at Brighton by means of a company. They 
asked me to be their President, but I declined, on the ground 
that I did not desire to become connected with any commercial 
undertaking. What has become of the scheme I do not know, 
but I doubt whether it would be of any use to you, even if any 
connection could be established. 

As soon as you have any statement of your project ready, 
send it to me and I will take care that it is brought prominently 
before the British public so as to stir up their minds. And then 
we will have a regular field-day about it in Section D at Liver- 

Let me know your new ideas about insects and vertebrata as 
soon as possible, and I promise to do my best to pull them to 
pieces. What between Kowalewsky and his Ascidians, Mikluko- 
Maclay and his Fish-brains, and you and your Arthropods, I am 
becoming schwindelsuchtig, and spend my time mainly in that 
pious ejaculation " Donner und Blitz," in which, as you know, 
I seek relief. Then there is our Bastian who is making living 
things by the following combination : — 

9 Ammoniae Carbonatis 
Sodae Phosphatis 
Aquae destillatae 

quantum sufficit 
Caloris 150® Centigrade 
Vacui pcrfectissimi 

Transubstantiation will be nothing to this if it turns out to 
be true, and you may go and tell your neighbour Januarius to 
shut up his shop as the heretics mean to outbid him. 

* Dr. Dohrn succeeded in establishing such a zoological ** station ** 
at Naples. 


Now I think that the best service I can render to all you 
enterprising young men is to turn devirs advocate, and do my 
best to pick holes in your work. 

By the way Mikluko-Maclay * has been here ; I have seen a 
good deal of him, and he strikes me as a man of very consider- 
able capacity and energy. He was to return to Jena to-day. 

My friend Herbert Spencer will be glad to learn that you 
appreciate his book. I have been his devil's advocate for a 
number of years, and there is no telling how many brilliant 
speculations I have been the means of choking in an embryonic 

My wife does not know that I am writing to you, or she 
would say apropos of your last paragraph that you are an en- 
tirely unreasonable creature in your notions of how friendship 
should be manifested, and that you make no allowances for the 
oppression and exhaustion of the work entailed by what Jean 
Paul calls a " Tochtervolles Haus." I hope I may live to see 
you with at least ten children, and then my wife and I will be 
avenged. Our children will be married and settled by that time, 
and we shall have time to write every day and get very wroth 
when you do not reply immediately. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

All are well, the children so grown you will not know them. 

/ufy 1 8, 1870. 

My dear Dohrn — Notwithstanding the severe symptoms of 
" Tochterkrankheit " under which I labour, I find myself equal 
to reply to your letter. 

The British Association meets in September on the 14th day 
of that month, which falls on a Wednesday. Of course, if you 
come you shall be provided for by the best specimen of Liver- 
pool hospitality. We have ample provision for the entertain- 
ment of the " distinguished foreigner." 

Will you be so good as to be my special ambassador with 
Haeckel and Gegenbaur, and tell them the same thing ? It would 
give me and all of us particular pleasure to see them and to take 
care of them. 

But I am afraid that this wretched war will play the very 
deuce with our foreign friends. If you Germans do not give 

* Mikluko-Maclay, a Russian naturalist, and close friend of 
Haeckers, who later adventured himself alone among the cannibals 
of New Guinea. 


that crowned swindler, whose fall I have been looking for ever 
since the coup d'etat, such a blow as he will never recover from, 
I will never forgive you. Public opinion in England is not 
worth much, but at present, it is entirely against France. Even 
the Times which general [ly] contrives to be on the baser side 
of a controversy is -at present on the German side. And my 
daughters announced to me yesterday that they had converted 
a young friend of theirs from the French to the German side, 
which is one gained for you. All look forward with great pleas- 
ure to seeing you in the autumn. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

In addition to this address on September 14, he read 
his paper on " Penicillium," etc., in Section D on the 20th. 
Speaking on the 17th, after a lecture of Sir J. Lubbock's 
on the " Social and Religious Condition of the Lower 
Races of Mankind," he brought forward his own experi- 
ences as to the practical results of the beliefs held by the 
Australian savages, and from this passed to the increasing 
savagery of the lower classes in great towns such as Liver- 
pool, which was the great political question of the future, 
and for which the only cure lay in a proper system of 

The savagery underlying modem civilisation was all the 
more vividly before him, because one evening he, together 
with Sir J. Lubbock, Dr. Bastian, and Mr. Samuelson, were 
taken by the chief of the detective department round some 
of the worst slums in Liverpool. In thieves' dens, doss 
houses, dancing saloons, enough of suffering and criminality 
was seen to leave a very deep and painful impression. In 
one of these places, a thieves' lodging-house, a drunken man 
with a cut face accosted him and asked him whether he 
was a doctor. He said " yes," whereupon the man asked 
him to doctor his face. He had been fighting, and was 
terribly excited. Huxley tried to pacify him, but if it had 
not been for the intervention of the detective, the man 
would have assaulted him. Afterwards he asked the de- 
tective if he were not afraid to go alone in these places, 
and got the significant answer, " Lord bless you, sir, drink 
and disease take all the strength out of them." 


On the 2 1 St, after the general meeting of the Association, 
which wound up the proceedings, the Historical Society 
of Lancashire and Cheshire presented a diploma of honorary 
membership and a gift of books to Huxley, Sir G. Stokes, 
and Sir J. Hooker, the last three Presidents of the British 
Association, and to Professors Tyndalf and Rankine and 
Sir J. Lubbock, the lecturers at Liverpool. Then Huxley 
was presented with a mazer bowl lined with silver, made 
from part of one of the roof timbers of the cottage occupied 
as his headquarters by Prince Rupert during the siege of 
Liverpool. He was rather taken aback when he found the 
bowl was filled with champagne ; after a moment, however, 
he drank " success to the good old town of Liverpool," and 
with a wave of his hand, threw the rest on the floor, saying, 
" I pour this as a libation to the tutelary deities of the 

The same evening he was the guest of the Sphinx Club 
at dinner at the Royal Hotel, his friend Mr. P. H. Rathbone 
being in the chair, and in proposing the toast of the town 
and trade of Liverpool, declared that commerce was a 
greater civiliser than all the religion and all the science ever 
put together in the world, for it taught men to be truthful 
and punctual and precise in the execution of their engage- 
ments, and men who were truthful and punctual and precise 
in the execution of their engagements had put their feet 
upon the first rung of the ladder which led to moral and 
intellectual elevation. 

There were the usual clerical attacks on the address, 
among the rest a particularly violent one from a Unitarian 
pulpit. Writing to Mr. Samuelson on October 5 he says : — 

Be not vexed on account of the godly. They will have their 

way. I found Mr. *s sermon awaiting me on my return 

home. It is an able paper, but like the rest of his cloth he will 
not take the trouble to make himself acquainted with the ideas 
of the mall whom he opposes. At least that is the case if he 
imagines be brings me under the range of his guns. 

On October 2 he writes to Tyndall : — 
I have not yet thanked you properly for your great con- 
tribution to the success of our meeting [i.e, his lecture " On the 


Scientific Uses of the Imagination."] I was nervous over the 
passage about the clergy, but those confounded parsons seem to 
me to let you say anything while they bully me for a word or a 
phrase. It's the old story, "one man may steal a horse while 
the other may not look over the wall." 

Tyndall was not to be outdone, and replied : — 

The parsons know very well that I mean kindness ; if I cor- 
rect them I do it in love and not in wrath. 

One more extract from a letter to Dr. Dohrn, under 
date of November 17. The first part is taken up with a 
long and detailed description of the best English micro- 
scopes and their price, for Dr. Dohrn wished to get one ; 
and my father volunteered to procure it for him. The rest 
of the letter has a more general interest as giving his views 
on the great struggle between France and Germany then 
in progress, his distrust of militarism, and above all, his 
hatred of lying, political as much as any other: — 

This wretched war is doing infinite mischief, but I do not see 
what Germany can do now but carry it out to the end. 

I began to have some sympathy with the French after Sedan, 
but the Republic lies harder than the Empire did, and the whole 
country seems to me to be rotten to the core. The only figure 
which stands out with anything like nobility or dignity, on the 
French side, is that of the Empress, and she is only a second- 
rate Marie-Antoinette. There is no Roland, no Corday, and 
apparently no man of any description. 

The Russian row is beginning, and the rottenness of English 
administration will soon, I suppose, have an opportunity of 
displaying itself. Bad days are, I am afraid, in store for all of 
us, and the worst for Germany if it once becomes thoroughly 
bitten by the military mad dog. 

The " happy family " is flourishing and was afflicted, even 
over its breakfast, when I gave out the news that you had 
been ill. 

The wife desires her best remembrances, and we all hope 
you are better. 

The high pressure under which Huxley worked, and 
his abundant output, continued undiminished through the 
autumn and winter. Indeed, he was so busy that he post- 


poned his Lectures to Working Men in London from Octo- 
ber to February 1871. On October 3 he lectured in Leices- 
ter on " What is to be Learned from a Piece of Coal," a 
parallel lecture to that of 1868 on "A Piece of Chalk." 
On the 17th and 24th he lectured at Birmingham on " Ex- 
tinct Animals intermediate between Reptiles and Birds" 
— a subject which he had made peculiarly his own by long 
study; and on December 29 he was at Bradford, and lec- 
tured at the Philosophical Institute upon " The Formation 
of Coal " {Coll. Ess. viii.). 

He was also busy with two Royal Commissions ; still, at 
whatever cost of the energy and time due to his own investi- 
gations and those additional labours by which he increased 
his none too abundant income, he felt it his duty, in the 
interests of his ideal of education, to come forward as a 
candidate for the newly-instituted School Board for London. 
This was the practical outcome of the rising interest in 
education all over the country ; on its working, he felt, de- 
pended momentous issues — the fostering of the moral and 
physical well-being of the nation ; the quickening of its in- 
telligence and the maintenance of its commercial suprem- 
acy. Withal, he desired to temper " book-learning " with 
something of the direct knowledge of nature: on the one 
hand, as an admirable instrument of education, if properly 
applied ; on the other, as preparing the way for an attitude 
of mind which could appreciate the reasons for the immense 
changes already beginning to operate in human thought. 

Moreover, he possessed a considerable knowledge of the 
working of elementary education throughout the country, 
owing to his experience as examiner under the Science and 
Art Department, the establishment of which he describes as 
" a measure which came into existence unnoticed, but which 
will, I believe, turn out to be of more importance to the 
welfare of the people than many political changes over 
which the noise of battle has rent the air" (Scientific 
Education, 1869; Coll. Ess. lii. p. 131). 

Accordingly, though with health uncertain, and in the 
midst of exacting occupations, he felt that he ought not to 
stand aside at so critical a moment, and offered himself for 


election in the Marylebone division with a secret sense that 
rejection would in many ways be a great relief. 

The election took place on November 29, and Huxley 
came out second on the poll. He had had neither the means 
nor the time for a regular canvass of the electors. He was 
content to address several public meetings, and leave the 
result to the interest he could awaken amongst his hearers. 
His views were further brought before the public by the 
action of the editor of the Contemporary Review^ who, before 
the election, " took upon himself, in what seemed to him to 
be the public interest," to send to the newspapers an extract 
from Huxley's article, " The School Boards : what they can 
do, and what they may do/* which was to appear in the 
December number. 

In this article will be found {Coll Ess, iii. p. 374) a full 
account of the programme which he laid down for himself, 
and which to a great extent he saw carried into effect, in its 
fourfold division— of physical drill and discipline, not only 
to improve the physique of the children, but as an intro- 
duction to all other sorts of training— of domestic training, 
especially for g^rls— of education in the knowledge of moral 
and social laws and the engagement of the affections for 
what is good and against what is evil — ^and finally, of intel- 
lectual training. And it should be noted that he did not only 
regard intellectual training from the utilitarian point of 
view; he insisted, e.g. on the value of reading for amuse- 
ment as " one of its most valuable uses to hard- worked 

Much as he desired that this intellectual training should 
be efficient, the most cursory perusal of this article will 
show how far he placed the moral training above the in- 
tellectual, which, by itself, would only turn the gutter-child 
into " the subtlest of all the beasts of the field," and how 
wide of the mark is the cartoon at this period representing 
him as the professor whose panacea for the ragged children 
was to " cram them full of nonsense." 

In the third section are also to be found his arguments 
for the retention of Bible-reading in the elementary schools. 
He reproached extremists of either party for confounding 


the science, theology, with the affection, religion, and either 
crying for more theology under the name of religion, or 
demanding the abolition of " religious " teaching in order 
to get rid of theology, a step which he likens to " burning 
your ship to get rid of the cockroaches." 

As regards his actual work on the Board, I must ex- 
press my thanks to Dr. J. H. Gladstone for his kindness 
in supplementing my information with an account based 
partly on his own long experience of the Board, partly on 
the reminiscences of members contemporary with my father. 

The Board met first on December 15, for the purpose 
of electing a Chairman. As a preliminary, Huxley pro- 
posed and carried a motion that no salary be attached to 
the post. He was himself one of the four members pro- 
posed for the Chairmanship; but the choice of the Board 
fell upon Lord Lawrence. In the words of Dr. Glad- 
stone : — 

Huxley at once took a prominent part in the proceedings, 
and continued to do so till the beginning of the year 1872, when 
ill-health compelled him to retire. 

At first there was much curiosity both inside and outside the 
Board as to how Huxley would work with the old educationists, 
the clergy, dissenting ministers, and the miscellaneous body of 
eminent men that comprised the first Board. His antagonism 
to many of the methods employed in elementary schools was 
well known from his various discourses, which had been recently 
published together under the title of Lay Sermons, Addresses, 
and Reviews, I watched his course with interest at the time; 
but for the purpose of this sketch I have lately sought informa- 
tion from such of the old members of the Board as are still 
living, especially the Earl of Harrowby, Bishop Barry, the Rev. 
Dr. Angus, and Mr. Edward North Buxton, together with Mr. 
Croad, the Clerk of the Board. They soon found proof of his 
great energy, and his power of expressing his views in clear 
and forcible language; but they also found that with all his 
strong convictions and lofty ideals he was able and willing to 
enter into the views of others, and to look at a practical question . 
from its several sides. He could construct as well as criticise. 
Having entered a public arena somewhat late in life, and being 
of a sensitive nature, he had scarcely acquired that calmness 
and pachydermatous quality which is needful for one's personal 


comfort ; but his colleagues soon came to respect him as a per- 
fectly honest antagonist or supporter, and one who did not 
allow differences of conviction to interfere with friendly inter- 

The various sections of the clerical party indeed looked 
forward with great apprehension to his presence on the 
Board, but the more liberal amongst them ventured to find 
ground for hoping that they and he would not be utterly 
opposed so far as the work of practical organisation was 
concerned, in the declaration of his belief that true education 
was impossible without " religion," of which he declared 
that all that has an unchangeable reality in it is constituted 
by the love of some ethical ideal to govern and guide con- 
duct, " together with the awe and reverence, which have no 
kinship with base fear, but rise whenever one tries to pierce 
below the surface of things, whether they be material or 
spiritual." And in fact a cleavage took place between him 
and the seven extreme *' secularists " on the Board (the seven 
champions of unchristendom, as their opponents dubbed 
them) on the question of the reading of the Bible in schools 
(see below, p. 367).* 

One of the earliest proposals laid before the Board was 
a resolution to open the meetings with prayer. To this 
considerable opposition was offered; but a bitter debate was 
averted by Huxley pointing out that the proposal was ultra 
vires, inasmuch as under the Act constituting the Board the 
business for which they were empowered to meet did not 
include prayer. Hereupon a requisition — in which he him- 
self joined — ^was made to allow the use of a committee-room 
to those who wished to unite in a short service before the 
weekly meetings, an arrangement which has continued to 
the present time. 

At the second meeting, on December 21, he gave notice 
of a motion to appoint a committee to consider and report 

* Bishop Barry calls particular attention to his attitude on this 
point, " because," he says, ** it is (I think) often misunderstood. In 
the Life (for instance) 0/ tfu Right Honourable W. //. Smith, published 
not long ago, Huxley is supposed, as a matter of course, to have been 
the leader of the Secularist party." 


Upon the scheme of education to be adopted in the Board 

This motion came up for consideration on February 
15, 1871. In introducing it, he said that such a committee 
ought to consider — 

First, the general nature and relations of the schools which 
may come under the Board. Secondly, the amount of time to 
be devoted to educational purposes in such schools ; and Thirdly, 
the subject-matter of the instruction or education, or teaching, 
or training, which is to be given in these schools. 

But this, by itself, he continued, would be incomplete. 
At one end of the scale he advocated Infant schools, and 
urged a connection with the excellent work of the Ragged 
schools. At the other end he desired to see continuation 
schools, and ultimately some scheme of technical education. 
A comprehensive scheme, indeed, would involve an educa- 
tional ladder from the gutter to the university, whereby 
children of exceptional ability might reach the place for 
which nature had fitted them. 

The subject matter of elementary instruction must be 
limited by what was practicable and desirable. The revised 
code had done too little ; it had taught the use of the tools 
of learning, while denying all sorts of knowledge on which 
to exercise them afterwards. And here incidentally he re- 
pudiated the notion that the English child was stupid; on 
the contrary, he thought the two finest intellects in Europe 
at this time were the English and the Italian. 

In particular he advocated the teaching of "the first 
elements of physical science " ; " by which I do not mean 
teaching astronomy and the use of the globes, and the rest 
of the abominable trash — but a little instruction of the child 
in what is the nature of common things about him; what 
their properties are, and in what relation this actual body of 
man stands to the universe outside of it." " There is no 
form of knowledge or instruction in which children take 
greater interest." 

Drawing and music, too, he considered, should be taught 
in every elementary school, not to produce painters or 


musicians, but as civilising arts. History, except the most 
elementary notions, he put out of court, as too advanced for 

Finally, he proposed a list of members to serve on the 
Education Committee in a couple of sentences with a hu- 
morous twist in them which disarmed criticism. " On a 
former occasion I was accused of having a proclivity in 
favour of the clergy, and recollecting this, I have only given 
them in this instance a fair proportion of the representation. 
If, however, I have omitted any gentleman who thinks he 
ought to be on the committee, I can only assure him that 
above all others I should have been glad to put him on." 

That day week the committee was elected, about a third 
of the members of the Board being chosen to serve on it. 
At the same meeting. Dr. Gladstone continues — 

Mr. W. H. Smith, the well-known member of Parliament, 
proposed, and Mr. Samuel Morley, M.P., seconded, a resolution 
in favour of religious teaching — " That, in the schools provided 
by the Board, the Bible shall be read, and there shall be given 
therefrom such explanations and such instruction in the prin- 
ciples of religion and morality as are suited to the capacities of 
children," with certain provisos. Several antagonistic amend- 
ments were proposed; but Prof. Huxley gave his support to 
Mr. Smith's resolutions, which, however, he thought might be 
trimmed and amended in a way that the Rev. Dr. Angus had 
suggested. His speech, defining his own position, was a very 
remarkable one. He said it was assumed in the public mind 
that this question of religious instruction was a little family 
quarrel between the different sects of Protestantism on the one 
hand, and the old Catholic Church on the other. Side by side 
with this much shivered and splintered Protestantism of theirs, 
and with the united fabric of the Catholic Church (not so strong 
temporally as she used to be, otherwise he might not have been 
addressing them at that moment) 'there was a third party grow- 
ing up into very considerable and daily increasing significance, 
which had nothing to do with either of those great parties, and 
which was pushing its own way independent of them, having 
its own religion and its own morality, which rested in no way 
whatever on the foundations of the other two." He thought 
that " the action of the Board should be guided and influenced 
very much by the consideration of this third great aspect of 


things," which he called the scientific aspect, for want of a 
better name. 

" It had been very justly said that they had a great mass of 
low half-instructed population which owed what little redemp- 
tion from ignorance and barbarism it possessed mainly to the 
efforts of the clergy of the different denominations. Any sys- 
tem of gaining the attention of these people to these matters 
must be a system connected with, or not too rudely divorced 
from their own system of belief. He wanted regulations, not 
in accordance with what he himself thought was right, but in 
the direction in which thought was moving." He wanted an 
elastic system, that did not oppose any obstacle to the free play 
of the public mind, 

Huixley voted against all the proposed amendments,^ and in 
favour of Mr. Smith's motion. There were only three who 
voted against it; while the three Roman Catholic members re- 
frained from voting. This basis of religious instruction, prac- 
tically unaltered, has remained the law of the Board ever since. 

There was a controversy in the papers, between Prof. Hux- 
ley and the Rev. W. H. Freemantle, as to the nature of the 
explanations of the Bible lessons. Huxley maintained that it 
should be purely grammatical, geographical, and historical in 
its nature; Freemantle that it should include some species of 
distinct religious teaching, but not of a denominational char- 

In taking up this position, Huxley expressly disclaimed 
any desire for a mere compromise to smooth over a diffi- 
culty. He supported what appeared to be the only work- 
able plan under the circumstances, though it was not his 
ideal ; for he would not have used the Bible as the agency 
for introducing the religious and ethical idea into education 
if he had been dealing with a fresh and untouched popu- 

His appreciation of the, literary and historical value of 
the Bible, and the effect it was likely to produce upon the 

* Cp. extract from Lord Shaftesbury's journal about this corre- 
spondence i^Life and Work of Lord Shaftesbury, iii. 282). ** Professor 
Huxley has this definition of morality and religion : * Teach a child 
what is wise, that is morality. Teach him what is wise and beautiful, 
that is religion!^ Let no one henceforth despair of making things 
clear and of giving explanations ! " 


school children, circumstanced as they were, is sometimes 
misunderstood to be an endorsement of the vulgar idea of it 
But it always remained his belief ** that the principle of strict 
secularity in State education is sound, and must eventually 
prevail." * 

His views on dogmatic teaching in State schools, may 
be gathered further from two letters at the period when an 
attempt was being made to upset the so-called compromise. 

The first appeared in the Times of April 29, 1893 : — 

Sir — In a leading article of your issue of to-day you state, 
with perfect accuracy, that I supported the arrangement respect- 
ing religious instruction agreed to by the London School Board 
in 1 871, and hitherto undisturbed. But you go on to say that 
"the persons who framed the rule" intended it to include 
definite teaching of such theological dogmas as the Incarnation. 

I cannot say what may have been in the minds of the 
framers of the rule; but, assuredly, if I had dreamed that any 
such interpretation could fairly be put upon it, I should have 
opposed the arrangement to the best of my ability. 

In fact, a year before the rule was framed I wrote an article 
in the Contemporary Review, entitled "The School Boards — 
what they can do and what they may do," in which I argued 
that the terms of the Education Act excluded such teaching as 
it is now proposed to include. And I support my contention by 
the . following citation from a speech delivered by Mr. Forster 
at the Birkbeck Institution in 1870: — 

I have the fullest confidence that in the reading and explain- 
ing of the Bible what the children will be taught will be the 
great truths of Christian life and conduct, which all of us desire 
they should know, and that no efforts will be made to cram into 
their poor little minds theological dogmas which their tender 
age prevents them from understanding. — I am, Sir, your 
obedient servant, T. H. Huxley. 

HoDESLEA, Eastbournb, A/rt/ 28. 

♦ As a result of some remarks of Mr. Clodd's on the matter in Fio- 
tuers of Evolution^ a correspondent, some time after, wrote to him as 
follows : 

** In the report upon State Education in New Zealand, 1895, drawn 
up by R. Laishly, the following occurs, p. 13 : — * Professor Huxley 
gives me leave to state his opinion to be that the principle of strict 
secularity in State education is sound, and must eventually prevail."* 


The second is to a correspondent who wrote to ask him 
whether adhesion to the compromise had not rendered non- 
sensical the teaching given in a certain lesson upon the 
finding of the youthful Jesus in the temple, when, after they 
had read the verse, " How is it that ye sought me ? Wist ye 
not that I must be about my Father's business? " the teacher 
asked the children the name of Jesus' father and mother, 
and accepted the simple answer, Joseph and Mary. Thus 
the point of the story, whether regarded as reality or myth, 
is slurred over, the result is perplexity, the teaching, in 
short, is bad, apart from all theory as to the value of the 

In a letter to the Chronicle, which he forwarded, this 
correspondent suggested a continuation of the " incrimi- 
nated lesson " : — 

Suppose, then, that an intelligent child of seven, who has 
just heard it read out that Jesus excused Himself to His parents 
for disappearing for three days, on the ground that He was about 
His Father's business, and has then learned that His father's 
name was Joseph, had said " Please, teacher, was this the Jesus 
that gave us the Lord's Prayer ? " The teacher answers " Yes." 
And suppose the child rejoins, " And is it to His father Joseph 
that he bids us pray when we say Our Father?" But there 
are boys of nine, ten, eleven years in Board schools, and many 
such boys are intelligent enough to take up the subject of the 
lesson where the instructor left it. " Please, teacher," asks one 
of these, " what business was it that Jesus had to do for His 
father Joseph? Had he stopped behind to get a few orders? 
Was it true that He had been about Joseph's business? And, 
if it was not true, did He not deserve to be punished ? " 

Huxley replied on October i6, 1894: — 

Dear Sir — I am one with you in hating " hush up " as I do 
all other forms of lying ; but I venture to submit that the compro- 
mise of 1 87 1 was not a " hush-up." If I had taken it to be such 
I should have refused to have anything to do with it. And more 
specifically, I said in a letter to the Times (see Times, 29th 
April 1893) at the beginning of the present controversy, that 
if I had thought the compromise involved the obligatory teach- 
ing of such dogmas as the Incarnation I should have opposed it. 

There has never been the slightest ambiguity about my posi- 


tion in this matter; in fact, if you will turn to one paper on the 
School Board written by me before my election in 1870, I think 
you will find that I anticipated the pith of the present discussion. 

The persons who agreed to the compromise, did exactly 
what all sincere men who agree to compromise, do. For the 
sake of the enormous advantage of giving the rudiments of a 
decent education to several generations of the people, they ac- 
cepted what was practically an armistice in respect of certain 
matters about which the contending parties were absolutely 

The clericals have now " denounced " the treaty, doubtless 
thinking they can get a new one more favourable to themselves. 

From my point of view, I am not sure that it might not be 
well for them to succeed, so that the sweep into space which 
would befall them in the course of the next twenty-three years 
might be complete and final. 

As to the case you put to me — permit me to continue the 
dialogue in another shape. 

Boy, — Please, teacher, if Joseph was not Jesus' father and 
God was, why did Mary say, "Thy father and I have sought 
thee sorrowing " ? How could God not know where Jesus was ? 
How could He be sorry? 

Teacher, — When Jesus says Father, he means God; but 
when Mary says father, she means Joseph. 

Boy, — Then Mary didn't know God was Jesus* father? 

Teacher, — Oh, yes, she did (reads the story of the Annun- 

Boy, — It seems to me very odd that Mary used language 
which she knew was not true, and taught her son to call Joseph 
father. But there's another odd thing about her. If she knew 
her child was God's son, why was she alarmed about his safety ? 
Surely she might have trusted God to look after his own son 
in a crowd. 

I know of children of six and seven who are quite capable 
of following out such a line of inquiry with all the severe logic 
of a moral sense which has not been sophisticated by pious 

I could tell you of stranger inquiries than these which have 
been made by children in endeavouring to understand the ac- 
count of the miraculous conception. • 

Whence I conclude that even in the interests of what 
people are pleased to call Christianity (though it is my firm 
conviction that Jesus would have repudiated the doctrine of 



the Incarnation as warmly as that of the Trinity), it may be 
well to leave things as they are. 

All this is for your own eye. There is nothing in substance 
that I have not said publicly, but I do not feel called upon to 
say it over again, or get mixed up in an utterly wearisome con- 
troversy. — I am, yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

However, he was unsuccessful in his proposal that a 
selection be made of passages for reading from the Bible ; 
the Board refused to become censors. On May lo he 
raised the question of the diversion from the education of 
poor children of charitable bequests, which ought to be 
applied to the augmentation of the school fund. In speak- 
ing to this motion he said that the long account of errors 
and crimes of the Catholic Church was greatly redeemed 
by the fact that that Church had always borne in mind the 
education of the poor, and had carried out the great demo- 
cratic idea that the soul of every man was of the same value 
in the eyes of his Maker. 

The next matter of importance in which he took part 
was on June 14, when the Committee on the Scheme 
of Education presented its first report. Dr. Gladstone 
writes : — 

It was a very voluminous document. The Committee had 
met every week, and, in the words of Huxley, "what it had 
endeavoured to do, was to obtain some order and system and 
uniformity in important matters, whilst in comparatively unim- 
portant matters they thought some play should be given for the 
activity of the bodies of men into whose hands the management 
of the various schools should be placed." The recommendations 
were considered on June 21 and July 12, and passed without 
any material alterations or additions. They were very much 
the same as existed in the best elementary schools of the period. 
Huxley's chief interest, it may be surmised, was in the sub- 
jects of instruction. It was passed that, in infants' schools 
there should be the Bible, reading, writing, arithmetic, object 
lessons of a simple character, with some such exercise of the 
hands and eyes as is given in the Kindergarten system, music, 
and drill. In junior and senior schools the subjects of instruc- 
tion were divided into two classes, essential and discretionary, 
the essentials being the Bible, and the principles of religion and 


morality, reading, writing, and arithmetic, English grammar 
and composition, elementary geography, and elementary social 
economy, history of England, the principles of book-keeping 
in senior schools, with mensuration in senior boys' schools. All 
through the six years there were to be systematised object les- 
sons, embracing a course of elementary instruction in physical 
science, and serving as an introduction to the science examina- 
tions conducted by the Science and Art Department. An 
analogous course of instruction was adopted for elementary 
evening schools. In moving " that the formation of science and 
art classes in connection with public elementary schools be en- 
couraged and facilitated," Huxley contended strongly for it, 
saying, " The country could not possibly commit a greater error 
than in establishing schools in which die direct applications of 
science and art were taught before those who entered the classes 
were grounded in the principles of physical science." In advo- 
cating object lessons he said, " The position that science was 
now assuming, not only in relation to practical life, but to 
thought, was such that those who remained entirely ignorant 
of even its elementary facts were in a wholly unfair position as 
regarded the world of thought and the world of practical life." 
It was, moreover, " the only real foundation for technical edu- 

Other points in which he was specially concerned were, 
that the universal teaching of drawing was accepted, against 
an amendment excluding girls ; that domestic economy was 
made a discretionary substitute for needlework and cutting- 
out; while he spoke in defence of Latin as a discretionary 
subject, alternatively with a modem language. It was true 
that he would not have proposed it in the first instance, 
not because a little Latin is a bad thing, but for fear of 
" overloading the boat." But, on the other hand, there was 
great danger if education were not thrown open to all with- 
out restriction. If it be urged that a man should be con- 
tent with the state of life to which he is called, the obvious 
retort is, How do you know what is your state of life, unless 
you try what you are called to ? There is no more frightful 
" sitting on the safety valve " than in preventing men of 
ability from having the means of rising to the positions for 
which they, by their talents and industry, could qualify 



Further, although the committee as a whole recom- 
mended that discretionary subjects should be extras, he 
wished them to be covered by the general payment, in which 
sense the report was amended. 

This Education Committee (proceeds Dr. Gladstone) con- 
tinued to sit, and on November 30 brought up a report in favour 
of the Prussian system of separate class-rooms, to be tried in 
one school as an experiment. This reads curiously now that it 
has become the system almost universally adopted in the London 
Board Schools. 

In regard to examinations Huxley strongly supported the 
view that the teaching in all subjects, secular or sacred, should 
be periodically tested. 

On December 13, Huxley raised the question whether the 
selection of books and apparatus should be referred to his Com- 
mittee or to the School Management Committee, and on Jan- 
uary 10 following, a small sub-committee for that object was 
formed. Almost immediately after this he retired from the 

One more speech of his, which created a great stir at 
the time, must be referred to, namely his expression of 
undisguised hostility to the system of education maintained 
by the Ultramontane section of the Roman Catholics.* In 
October the bye-laws came up for consideration. One of 
them provided that the Board should pay over direct to 
denominational schools the fees for poor children. This 
he opposed on the ground that it would lead to repeated 
contests on the Board, and further, might be used as a tool 
by the Ultramontanes for their own purposes. Believing 
that their system as set forth in the syllabus, of securing 
complete possession of the minds of those whom they taught 
or controlled, was destructive to all that was highest in the 
nature of mankind, and inconsistent with intellectual and 
political liberty, he considered it his earnest duty to oppose 
all measures which would lead to assisting the Ultramon- 
tanes in their purpose. 

Hereupon he was vehemently attacked, for example, in 
the Times for his " injudicious and even reprehensible tone " 

* Cp. ** Scientific Education," Co//. Ess, iii. p. iii. 


which " aggravated the difficulties his opponents might have 
in giving way to him." Was this, it was asked, the way to 
get Roman Catholic children to the Board schools? Was 
it not an abandonment of the ideal of compulsory edu- 
cation ? 

It is hardly necessary to point out that the question was 
not between the compulsory inclusion or exclusion of poor 
children, but between their admission at the cost of the 
Board to schools under the Board's own control or outside 
it. In any case the children of Roman Catholics were not 
likely to get their own doctrines taught in Board Schools, 
and without this they declared they would rather go with- 
out education at all. 

Early in 1872 Huxley retired. For a year he had con- 
tinued at this task ; then his health broke down, and feeling 
that he had done his part, from no personal motives of 
ambition, but rather at some cost to himself, for what he 
held to be national ends, he determined not to resume the 
work after the rest which was to restore him to health, and 
made his resignation definite. 

Dr. Gladstone writes : — 

On February 7 a letter of resignation was received from 
him, stating that he was " reluctantly compelled, both on account 
of his health and his private affairs, to insist on giving up his 
seat at the Board." The Rev. Dr. Rigg, Canon Miller, Mr. 
Charles Read, and Lord Lawrence expressed their deep regret. 
In the words of Dr. Rigg, "they were losing one of the most 
valuable members of the Board, not only because of his intellect 
and trained acuteness, but because of his knowledge of every 
subject connected with culture and education, and because of 
his great fairness and impartiality with regard to all subjects 
that came under his observation." 

Though Huxley quitted the Board after only fourteen 
months* service, the memory of his words and acts combined to 
influence it long afterwards. In various ways he expressed 
his opinion on educational matters, publicly and privately. He 
frequentiy talked with me on the subject at the Athenaeum Club, 
and shortly after my election to the Board in 1873, I find it 
recorded in my diary that he insisted strongly on the necessity 
of our building infants' schools, — " people may talk about intel- 


lectual teaching, but what we principally want is the moral 

As to the sub-committee on books and apparatus, it did 
little at first, but at the beginning of the second Board, 1873, it 
became better organised under the presidency of the Rev. Benja- 
min Waugh. At the commencement of the next triennial term 
I became the chairman, and continued to be such for eighteen 
years. It was our duty to put into practice the scheme of 
instruction which Huxley was mainly instrumental in settling. 
We were thus able indirectly to improve both the means and 
methods of teaching. The subjects of instruction have all been 
retained in the Curriculum of the London School Board, except, 
perhaps, " mensuration " and " social economy." The most im- 
portant developments and additions have been in the direction 
of educating the hand and eye. Kindergarten methods have 
been promoted. Drawing, on which Huxley laid more stress 
than his colleagues generally did, has been enormously extended 
and greatly revolutionised in its methods. Object lessons and 
elementary science have been introduced everywhere, while 
shorthand, the use of tools for boys, and cookery and domestic 
economy for girls are becoming essentials in our schools. Even- 
ing continuation schools have lately been widely extended. 
Thus the impulse given by Huxley in the first nionths of the 
Board's existence has been carried forward by others, and is 
now affecting the minds of the half million of boys and girls 
in the Board Schools of London, and indirectly the still greater 
number in other schools throughout the land. 

I must further express my thanks to Bishop Barry for 
permission to make use of the following passages from the 
notes contributed by him to Dr. Gladstone : — 

I had the privilege of being a member of his committee for 
defining the curriculum of study, and here also— the religious 
question being disposed of — I was able to follow much the same 
line as his, and I remember being struck not only with his clear- 
headed ability, but with his strong commonsense, as to what was 
useful and practicable, and the utter absence in him of doc- 
trinaire aspiration after ideal impossibilities. There was (I 
think) very little under his chairmanship of strongly accentu- 
ated difference of opinion. 

In his action on the Board generally I was struck with these 
three characteristics : — First, his remarkable power of speaking 


— I may say, of oratory — not only on his own scientific subjects, 
but on all the matters, many of which were of great practical 
interest and touched the deepest feelings, which came before 
the Board at that critical time. Had he chosen — and we heard 
at that time that he was considering whether he should choose 
— ^to enter political life, it would certainly have made him a 
great power, possibly a leader, in that sphere. Next, what con- 
stantly appears in his writings, even those of the most polemical 
kind — a singular candour in recognising truths which might 
seem to militate against his own position, and a power of under- 
standing and respecting his adversaries' opinions, if only they 
were strongly and conscientiously held. I remember his saying 
on one occasion that in his earlier experience of sickness and 
suffering, he had found that the most effective helpers of the 
higher humanity were not the scientist or the philosopher, but 
" the parson, and the sister, and the Bible woman." Lastly, the 
strong commonsense, which enabled him to see what was 
" within the range of practical politics," and to choose for the 
cause which he had at heart the line of least resistance, and to 
check, sometimes to rebuke, intolerant obstinacy even on the 
side which he was himself inclined to favour. These qualities 
over and above his high intellectual ability made him, for the 
comparatively short time that he remained on the Board, one 
of its leading members. 

No less vivid is the impression left, after many years, 
upon another member of the first School Board, the Rev. 
Benjamin Waugh, whose life-long work for the children is so 
well known. From his recollections, written for the use of 
Professor Gladstone, it is my privilege to quote the follow- 
ing paragraphs : — 

I was drawn to him most, and was influenced by him most, 
because of his attitude to a child. He was on the Board to 
establish schools for children. His motive in every argument, 
in all the fun and ridicule he indulged in, and in his occasional 
anger, was the child. He resented the idea that schools were to 
train either congregations for churches or hands for factories. 
He was on the Board as a friend of children. What he sought 
to do for the child was for the child's sake, that it might live a 
fuller, truer, worthier life. If ever his g^eat tolerance with men 
with whom he differed on general principles seemed to fail him 
for a moment, it was because they seemed to him to seek other 
ends than the child for its own sake. . . . 


His contempt for the idea of the world into which we were 
born being either a sort of clergyhouse or a market-place, was 
too complete to be marked by any eagerness. But in view of the 
market-place idea he was the less calm. 

Like many others who had not yet come to know in what 
high esteem he held the moral and spiritual nature of children, 
I had thought he was the advocate of mere secular studies, alike 
in the nation's schools, and in its families. But by contact with 
him, this soon became an impossible idea. In very early days on 
the Board a remark I had made to a mutual friend which im- 
plied this unjust idea was repeated to him. " Tell Waugh that 
he talks too fast," was his message to me. I was not long in 
finding out that this was a very just reproof. . . . 

The two things in his character of which I became most 
conscious by contact with him, were his childlikeness and his 
consideration for intellectual inferiors. His arguments were as 
transparently honest as the arguments of a child. They might 
or might not seem wrong to others, but they were never untrue 
to himself. Whether you agreed with them or not, they always 
added greatly to the charm of his personality. Whether his face 
was lighted by his careless and playful humour or his great 
brows were shadowed by anger, he was alike expressing himself 
with the honesty of a child. What he counted iniquity he hated, 
and what he counted righteous he loved with the candour of a 
child. . . . 

Of his consideration for intellectual inferiors I, of course, 
needed a large share, and it was never wanting. Towering as 
was his intellectual strength and keenness above me, indeed 
above the whole of the rest of the members of the Board, he 
did not condescend to me. The result was never humiliating. 
It had no pain of any sort in it. He was too spontaneous and 
liberal with his consideration to seem conscious that he was 
showing any. There were many men of religious note upon the 
Board, of some of whom I could not say the same. 

In his most trenchant attacks on what he deemed wrong in 
principles, he never descended to attack either the sects which 
held them or the individuals who supported them, even though 
occasionally much provocation was given him. He might not 
care for peace with some of the theories represented on the 
Board, but he had certainly and at all times great good- will to 

As a speaker he was delightful. Few, clear, definite, and 
calm as stars were the words he spoke. Nobo4y talked whilst 


he was speaking. There were no tricks in his talk. He did 
not seem to be trying to persuade you of something. What 
convinced him, that he transferred to others. He made no 
attempt to misrepresent those opposed to him. He sought only 
to let them know himself. . . . Even the sparkle of his humour, 
like the sparkle of a diamond, was of the inevitable in him, 
and was as fair as it was enjoyable. 

As one who has tried to serve children, I look back upon 
having fallen in with Mr. Huxley as one of the many fortunate 
circumstances of my life. It taught me the importance of mak- 
ing acquaintance with facts, and of studying the laws of them. 
Under his influence it was that I most of all came to see the 
practical value of a single eye to those in any pursuit of life. 
I saw what effect they had on emotions of charity and senti- 
ments of justice, and what simplicity and grandeur they gave 
to appeals. 

My last conversation with him was at Eastbourne some time 
in 1887 or 1888. I was there on my society*s business. " Well, 
Waugh, you're still busy about your babies," was his greeting. 
" Yes," I responded, " and you are still busy about your pigs." 
One of the last discussions at which he was present at the 
School Board for London had been on the proximity of a pig- 
gery to a site for a school, and his attack on Mr. Gladstone on 
the Gadarene swine had just been made in the Nineteenth 
Century. " Do you still believe in Gladstone ? " he continued. 
" That man has the greatest intellect in Europe. He was 
born to be a leader of men, and he has debased himself to be 
a follower of the masses. If working men were to-day to 
vote by a majority that two and two made five, to-morrow 
Gladstone would believe it, and find them reasons for it 
which they had never dreamed of." He said it slowly and with 

Two more incidents are connected with his service on 
the School Board. A wealthy friend wrote to him in the 
most honourable and delicate terms, begging him, on public 
grounds, to accept £400 a year to enable him to continue 
his work on the Board. He refused the offer as simply 
and straightforwardly as it was made; his means, though 
not large, were sufficient for his present needs. 

Further, a good many people seemed to think that he 
meant to use the School Board as a stalking horse for a 


political career. To one of those who urged him to stand 
for Parliament, he replied thus: — 

Nov. i8, 1871. 

Dear Sir — It has often been suggested to me that I should 
seek for a seat in the House of Commons ; indeed I have reason , 
to think that many persons suppose that I entered the London 
School Board simply as a road to Parliament. 

But I assure you that this supposition is entirely without 
foundation, and that I have never seriously entertained any 
notion of the kind. 

The work of the School Board involves me in no small 
sacrifices of various kinds, but I went into it with my eyes open, 
and with the clear conviction that it was worth while to make 
those sacrifices for the sake of helping the Education Act into 
practical operation. A year's experience has not altered that 
conviction; but now that the most difficult, if not the most im- 
portant, part of our work is done, I begin to look forward with 
some anxiety to the time when I shall be relieved of duties 
which so seriously interfere with what I regard as my proper 

No one can say what the future has in store for him, but at 
present I know of no inducement, not even the offer of a seat 
in the House of Commons, which would lead me, even tem- 
porarily and partially, to forsake that work ag^n. — I am, dear 
sir, yours very faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

I give here a letter to me from Sir Mountstuart Grant 
Duff, who also at one period was anxious to induce him to 
enter Parliament : — 

Lexden Park, Colchester, 
4/A November 1898. 

Dear Mr. Huxley — I have met men who seemed to me to 
possess powers of mind even greater than those of your father 
— ^his friend Henry Smith for example; but I never met any 
one who gave me the impression so much as he did, that he 
would have gone to the front in any pursuit in which he had 
seen fit to engage. Henry Smith had, in addition to his astonish- 
ing mathematical genius, and his great talents as a scholar, a 
rare faculty of persuasiveness. Your father used to speak with 
much admiration and some amusement of the way in which 
he managed to get people to take his view by appearing to take 
theirs; but he never could have been a power in a popular as- 
sembly, nor have carried with him by the force of his eloquence, 


great masses of men. I do not think that your father, if he had 
entered the House of Commons and thrown himself entirely into 
political life, would have been much behind Gladstone as a 
debater, or Bright as an orator. Whether he had the stamina 
which are required not only to reach but to retain a foremost 
place in politics, is another question. The admirers of Prince 
Bismarck would say that the daily prayer of the statesman 
should be for " une bonne digestion et un mauvais coeur." " Le 
mauvais coeur " does not appear to be " de toute necessite," but, 
assuredly, the "bonne digestion" is. Given an adequate and 
equal amount of ability in two men who enter the House of 
Commons together, it is the man of strong digestion, drawing 
with it, as it usually does, good temper and power of continuous 
application, who will go furthest. Gladstone, who was inferior 
to your father in intellect, might have "given points" to the 
Dragon of Wantley who devoured church steeples. Your father 
could certainly not have done so, and in that respect was less 
well equipped for a life-long parliamentary struggle. 

I should like to have seen these two pitted against each 
other with that " substantial piece of furniture " between them 
behind which Mr. Disraeli was glad to shelter himself. I should 
like to have heard them discussing some subject which they 
both thoroughly understood. When they did cross swords the 
contest was like nothing that has happened in our times save 
the struggle at Omdurman. It was not so much a battle as a 
massacre, for Gladstone had nothing but a bundle of antiquated 
prejudices wherewith to encounter your father's luminous 
thought and exact knowledge. 

You know, I daresay, that Mr. William Rathbone, then M.P. 
for Liverpool, once proposed to your father to be the com- 
panion of my first Indian journey in 1874-5, he, William Rath- 
bone, paying all your father's expenses.* Mr. Rathbone made 
this proposal when he found that Lubbock, with whom I trav- 
elled a great deal at that period of my life, was unable to go 
with me to India. How I wish your father had said "Yes." 
My journey, as it was, turned out most instructive and de- 
lightful; but to have lived five months with a man of his ex- 

♦ Of this, Dr. Tyndall wrote to Mrs. Huxley : — *' I want to tell you 
a pleasant conversation I had last night with Jodrell. He and a 
couple more want to send Hal with Grant Duff to India, Uking 
charge of his duties here and of all necessities ghostly and bodily 
there ! " 


traordinary gifts would have been indeed a rare piece of good 
fortune, and I should have been able also to have contributed 
to the work upon which you are engaged a great many facts 
which would have been of interest to your readers. You will, 
however, I am sure, take the will for the deed, and believe me, 
very sincerely yours. ^^ ^^ ^^^^ ^^^^_ 


*' In 1871 " (to quote Sir M. Foster), " the post of Sec- 
retary to the Royal Society became vacant through the 
resignation of William Sharpey, and the Fellows learned 
with glad surprise that Huxley, whom they looked to rather 
as a not distant President, was willing to undertake the 
duties of the office." This office, which he held until 1880, 
involved him for the next ten years in a quantity of anxious 
work, not only in the way of correspondence and adminis- 
tration, but the seeing through the press and often revising 
every biological paper that the Society received, as well as 
reading those it rejected. Then, too, he had to attend every 
general, council, and committee meeting, amongst which 
latter the Challenger Committee was a load in itself. Under 
pressure of all this work, he was compelled to g^ve up active 
connection with other learned societies.* 

Other work this year, in addition to the School Board, 
included courses of lectures at the London Institution in 
January and February, on " First Principles of Biology," 
and from October to December on " Elementary Physi- 
ology" ; lectures to Working Men in London from February 
to April, as well as one at Liverpool, March 25, on " The 
Geographical Distribution of Animals " ; two lectures at the 
Royal Institution, May 12 and 19, on " Berkeley on Vision," 
and the " Metaphysics of Sensation " (Coll. Ess, vi.). He 
published one paleontological paper, " Fossil Vertebrates 
from the Yarrow Colliery" (Huxley and Wright, Irish 
Acad. Trans.). In June and July he gave 36 lectures to 

* See Appendix II. 



schoolmasters — that important business of teaching the 
teachers that they might set about scientific instruction in 
the right way.* He attended the British Association at 
Edinburgh, and laid down his Presidency; he brought out 
his " Manual of Vertebrate Anatomy," and wrote a review 
of " Mr. Darwin's Critics " (see p. 391, sq.), while on Octo- 
ber 9 he delivered an address at the Midland Institute, 
Birmingham, on " Administrative Nihilism " (Coll. Ess. i.). 
This address, written between September 21 and 28, and 
remodelled later, was a pendant to his educational cam- 
paign on the School Board ; a re-statement and justification 
of what he had said and done there. His text was the vari- 
ous objections raised to State interference with education; 
he dealt first with the upholders of a kind of caste system, 
men who were willing enough to raise themselves and their 
sons to a higher social plane, but objected on semi-theo- 
logical grounds to anyone from below doing likewise — 
neatly satirising them and their notions of gentility, and 
quoting Plato in support of his contention that what is 
wanted even more than means to help capacity to rise is 
" machinery by which to facilitate the descent of incapacity 
from the higher strata to the Ipwer." He repeats in new 
phrase his warning " that every man of high natural ability, 
who is both ignorant and miserable, is as great a danger 
to society as a rocket without a stick is to people who fire 
it. Misery is a match that never goes out; genius, as an 
explosive power, beats gunpowder hollow: and if know- 
ledge, which should give that power guidance, is wanting, 
the chances are not small that the rocket will simply run 
a-muck among friends and foes." 

Another class of objectors will have it that government 
should be restricted to police functions, both domestic and 
foreign, that any further interference must do harm. 

Suppose, however, for the sake of argument, that we accept 
the proposition that the functions of the State may be properly 
summed up in the one great negative commandment — " Thou 
shalt not allow any man to interfere with the liberty of any 

♦ See pp. 389, 405, s^. 


other man," — I am unable to see that the logical consequence is 
any such restriction of the power of Government, as its sup- 
porters imply. If my next-door neighbour chooses to have his 
drains in such a state as to create a poisonous atmosphere, which 
I breathe at the risk of typhoid and diphtheria, he restricts my 
just freedom to live just as much as if he went about with a 
pistol threatening my life; if he is to be allowed to let his 
children go unvaccinated, he might as well be allowed to leave 
strychnine lozenges about in the way of mine; and if he brings 
them up untaught and untrained to earn their living, he is 
doing his best to restrict my freedom, by increasing the burden 
of taxation for the support of gaols and workhouses, which I 
have to pay. 

The higher the state of civilisation, the more completely do 
the actions of one member of the social body influence all the 
rest, and the less possible is it for any one man to do a wrong 
thing without interfering, more or less, with the freedom of all 
his fellow-citizens. So that, even upon the narrowest view of the 
functions of the State, it must be admitted to have wider powers 
than the advocates of the police theory are disposed to admit. 

This leads to a criticism of Mr. Spencer's elaborate com- 
parison of the body politic to the body physical, a compar- 
ison vitiated by the fact that "among the higher physio- 
logical organisms there is none which is developed by the 
conjunction of a number of primitively independent exist- 
ences into a complete whole." 

The process of social organisation appears to be comparable, 
not so much to the process of organic development, as to the 
synthesis of the chemist, by which independent elements are 
gradually built up into complex aggregations — in which each 
element retains an independent individuality, though held in 
subordination to the whole. 

It is permissible to quote a few more sentences from this 
address for the sake of their freshness, or as illustrating the 
writer's ideas. 

Discussing toleration, " I cannot discover that Locke 
fathers the pet doctrine of modem Liberalism, that the tol- 
eration of error is a good thing in itself, and to be reck- 
oned among the cardinal virtues." * 

* This bears on his speech against Ultramontanism. See p. 374. 


Of Mr. Spencer's comparison of the State to a living 
body in the interests of individualism: — 

I suppose it is universally agreed that it would be useless 
and absurd for the State to attempt to promote friendship and 
sympathy between man and man directly. But I see no reason 
why, if it be otherwise expedient, the State may not do some- 
thing towards that end indirectly. For example, I can conceive 
the existence of an Established Church which should be a bless- 
ing to the community. A Church in which, week by week, 
services should be devoted, not to the iteration of abstract propo- 
sitions in theology, but to the setting before men's minds of an 
ideal of true, just, and pure living; a place in which those who 
are weary of the burden of daily cares should find a moment's 
rest in the contemplation of the higher life which is possible 
for all, though attained by so few ; a place in which the man of 
strife and of business should have time to think how small, 
after all, are the rewards he covets compared with peace and 
charity. Depend upon it, if such a Church existed, no one 
would seek to disestablish it. 

The sole order of nobility which, in my judgment, becomes 
a philosopher, is the rank which he holds in the estimation of 
his fellow- workers, who are the only competent judges in such 
matters. Newton and Cuvier lowered themselves when the one 
accepted an idle knighthood, and the other became a baron of 
the empire. The great men who went to their graves as Michael 
Faraday and George Grote seem to me to have understood the 
dignity of knowledge better when they declined all such mere- 
tricious trappings.* 

The usual note of high pressure recurs in the following 
letter, written to thank Darwin for his new work, The 
Descent of Man, and Sexual Selection. 

Jermyn Street, Feb. 20, 1871. 
My dear Darwin — Best thanks for your new book, a copy 
of which I find awaiting me this morning. But I wish you 
would not bring your books out when I am so busy with all sorts 
of things. You know I can't show my face anywhere in society 
without having read them — and I consider it too bad. 

* On the other hand, he thought it right and proper for officials, in 
scientific as in other departments, to accept such honours, as givinjj 
them official power and status. In his own case, while refusing all 


No doubt, too, it is full of suggestions just like that I have 
hit upon by chance at p. 212 of vol. i., which connects the 
periodicity of vital phenomena with antecedent conditions. 

Fancy lunacy, &c., coming out of the primary fact that one's 
«th ancestor lived between tide-marks! I declare it's the 
grandest suggestion I have heard of for an age. 

I have been working like a horse for the last fortnight, with 
the fag end of influenza hanging about me — and I am improv- 
ing under the process, which shows what a good tonic work is. 

I 9hall try if I can't pick out from " Sexual Selection " some 
practical hint for the improvement of gutter-babies, and bring 
in a resolution thereupon at the School Board. — Ever yours 
faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

This year also saw the inception of a scheme for a series 
of science primers, under the joint editorship of Professors 
Huxley, Roscoe, and Balfour Stewart. Huxley undertook 
the Introductory Primer, but it progressed slowly owing to 
pressure of other work, and was not actually finished till 

26 Abbey Place, June 29, 187 1. 

My dear Roscoe — If you could see the minutes of the Pro- 
ceedings of the Aid to Science Commission, the Contagious Dis- 
eases Commission and the School Board (to say nothing of a 
lecture to Schoolmasters every morning) you would forgive me 
for not having written to you before. 

But now that I have had a little time to look at it, I hasten 
to say that your chemical primer appears to me to be admirable 
— ^just what is wanted. 

I enclose the sketch for my Primer primus. You will see 
the bearing of it, rough as it is. When it touches upon chemical 
matters, it would deal with them in a more rudimentary fashion 
than yours does, and only prepare the minds of the fledglings 
for you. 

I send you a copy of the Report of the Education Committee, 
the resolutions based on which I am now slowly getting passed 
by our Board. The adoption of (c) among the essential sub- 
simple titular honours, he accepted the Privy Councillorship, because, 
though incidentally carrying a title, it was an office ; and an office in 
virtue of which a man of science might, in theory at least, be called 
upon to act as responsible adviser to the Government, should special 
occasion arise. 



jects has, I hope, secured the future of Elementary Science in 
London. Cannot you get as much done in Manchester? — Ever 
yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Sir Charles Lyell was now nearly 74 years old, and 
though he lived four years longer, age was beginning to 
tell even upon his vigorous powers. A chance meeting with 
him elicited the following letter : — 

26 Abbey Place, July 30. 1871. 

My dear Darwin — I met Lyell in Waterloo Place to-day 
walking with Carrick Moore — and although what you said the 
other day had prepared me, I was greatly shocked at his ap- 
pearance, and still more at his speech. There is no doubt it is 
aflfected in the way you describe, and the fact gives me very 
sad forebodings about him. The Fates send me a swift and 
speedy end whenever my time comes. I think there is nothing 
so lamentable as the spectacle of the wreck of a once clear and 
vigorous mind ! 

I am glad Frank enjoyed his visit to us. He is a great 
favourite here, and I hope he will understand that he is free 
of the house. It was the greatest fun to see Jess and Mady * 
on their dignity with him. No more kissing, I can tell you. 
Miss Mady was especially sublime. 

Six out of our seven children have the whooping-cough. 
Need I say therefore that the wife is enjoying herself? 

With best regards to Mrs. Darwin and your daughter (and 
aflfectionate love to Polly) believe me. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The purchase of the microscope, already referred to, was 
the subject of another letter to Dr. Dohm, of which only 
the concluding paragraph about the School Board, is of 
general interest. Unfortunately the English microscope did 
not turn out a success, as compared to the work of the 
Jena opticians : this is the " optical Sadowa " of the second 

I fancy from what you wrote to my wife that there has been 
some report of my doings about the School Board in Germany. 
So I send you the number of the Contemporary Review \ for 

* Aged 13 and 12 respectively. 

t Containing his article on **The School Boards," etc. 


December that you may see what line I have really taken. 
Fanatics on both sides abuse me, so I think I must be right. 

When is this infernal war to come to an end? I hold for 
Germany as always, but I wish she would make peace. — With 
best wishes for the New Year. — Ever yours, 

T. H. Huxley. 

26 Abbey Place, July 7, 1871. 

My dear Dohrn — I have received your packet, and I will 
take care that your Report is duly presented to the Association. 
But the " Happy Family " in general, and myself in particular, 
are very sorry you cannot come to Scotland. We had begun 
to count upon it, and the children are immeasurably disgusted 
with the Insects which will not lay their eggs at the right 

You have become acclimatised to my bad behaviour in the 
matter of correspondence, so I shall not apologise for being in 
arrear. I have been frightfully hard-worked with two Royal 
Commissions and the School Board all sitting at once, but I am 
none the worse, and things are getting into shape — which is^'a 
satisfaction for one's trouble. I look forward hopefully towards 
getting back to my ordinary work next year. 

Your penultimate letter was very interesting to me, but the 
glimpses into your new views which it affords are very tanta- 
lising — and I want more. What you say about the development 
of the Amnion in your last letter still more nearly brought 
" Donner und Blitz I " to my lips — and I shall look out anxiously 
for your new facts. Lankester tells me you have been giving 
lectures on your views. I wish I had been there to hear. 

He is helping me as Demonstrator in a course of instruction 
in Biology which I am giving to Schoolmasters — ^with the view 
of converting them into scientific missionaries to convert the 
Christian Heathen of these islands to the true faith. 

I am afraid that the English microscope turned out to be by 
no means worth the money and trouble you bestowed upon it. 
But the glory of such an optical Sadowa should count for some- 
thing ! I wish that you would get your Jena man to supply me 
with one of his best objectives if the price is not ruinous — I 
should like to compare it with my -^y in. of Ross.* 

* In this connection it may be noted that he himself invented a 
combination microscope for laboratory use, still made by Crouch the 
optician. (See/<7«r>f. Queckett Aficr, Club^ vol. v. p. 144.) 



All our children but Jessie have the whooping-cough — Per- 
tussis — I don't know your German name for it — It is distress- 
ing enough for them, but, I think, still worse for their mother. 
However, there are no serious symptoms, and I hope the change 
of air will set them right 

They all join with me in best wishes and regrets that you 
are not coming. Won't you change your mind? We start on 
July 31st— Ever yours faithfully, ^ ^ Huxley. 

The summer holiday of 1871 was spent at St Andrews, 
a place rather laborious of approach at that time, with all 
the impedimenta of a large and young family, but chosen 
on account of its nearness to Edinburgh, where the British 
Association met that year. I well remember the night 
journey of some ten or elevein hours, the freshness of the 
early morning at Edinburgh, the hasty excursion with my 
father up the hill from the station as far as the old High 
Street. The return journey, however, was made easier by 
the kindness of Dr. Matthews Duncan, who put up the 
whole family for a night, so as to break the journey. 

We stayed at Castlemount, now belonging to Miss 
Paton, just opposite the ruined castle. Among other vis- 
itors to St. Andrews known to my father were Professors 
Tait and Crum Brown, who inveigled him into making trial 
of the " Royal and Ancient " game, which then, as now, 
was the staple resource of the famous little city. I have a 
vivid recollection of his being hopelessly bunkered three or 
four holes from home, and can testify that he bore the moral 
strain with more than usual calm as compared with the 
generality of golfers. Indeed, despite his naturally quick 
temper and his four years of naval service at a time when, 
perhaps, the traditions of a former generation had not 
wholly died out, he had a special aversion to the use of 
expletives ; and the occasional appearance of a strong word 
in his letters must be put down to a simple literary use 
which he would have studiously avoided in conversation. 
A curious physical result followed the vigour with which 
he threw himself into the unwonted recreation. For the 
last twenty years his only physical exercise had been walk- 

i87i "MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS" 391 

ing, and now his arms went black and blue under the mus- 
cular strain, as if they had been bruised. 

But the holiday was by no means spent entirely in 
recreation. One week was devoted to the British Associa- 
tion ; another to the examination of some interesting fossils 
at Elgin; while the last three weeks were occupied in 
writing two long articles, " Mr. Darwin's Critics," and the 
address entitled "Administrative Nihilism" referred to 
above (p. 384), as well as a review of Dana's Crinoids. The 
former, which appeared in the Contemporary Review for 
November (Coll. Ess. ii. 120-187) was a review of (i) Con- 
tributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, by A. R. Wal- 
lace, (2) The Genesis of Species, by St. George Mivart, 
F.R.S., and (3) an article in the Quarterly for July 1871, on 
Darwin's Descent of Man. 

" I am Darwin's bull-dog," he once said, and the Quar- 
terly Reviewer's treatment of Darwin, " alike unjust and un- 
becoming," provoked him into immediate action. " I am 
about sending you," he writes to Haeckel on Nov. 2, " a 
little review of some of Darwinjs critics. The dogs have 
been barking at his heels too much of late." Apart from 
this stricture, however, he notes the " happy change " which 
" has come over Mr. Darwin's critics. The mixture of ig- 
norance and insolence which at first characterised a large 
proportion of the attacks with which he was assailed, is no 
longer the sad distinction of anti-Darwinian criticism." 
Notes too " that, in a dozen years, the Origin of Species has 
worked as complete a revolution in biological science as the 
Principia did in astronomy — ^and it has done so, because, 
in the words of Helmholtz, it contains an ' essentially new 
creative thought.' " 

The essay is particularly interesting as giving evidence 
of his skill and knowledge in dealing with psychology, as 
against the Quarterly Reviewer, and even with such an un- 
likely subject as scholastic metaphysics, so that, by an odd 
turn of events, he appeared in the novel character of a 
defender of Catholic orthodoxy against an attempt from 
within that Church to prove that its teachings have in reality 
always been in harmony with the requirements of modern 



science. For Mr. Mivart, while twitting the generality of 
men of science with their ignorance of the real doctrines of 
his church, gave a reference to the Jesuit theologian Suarez, 
the latest great representative of scholasticism, as following 
St. Augustine in asserting, not direct, but derivative crea- 
tion, that is to say, evolution from primordial matter endued 
with certain powers. Startled by this statement, Huxley 
investigated the works of the learned Jesuit, and found not 
only that Mr. Mivart's reference to the Metaphysical Dis- 
putations was not to the point, but that in the " Tractatus 
de opere sex Dierum," Suarez expressly and emphatically 
rejects this doctrine and reprehends Augustine for assert- 
ing it. 

By great good luck (he writes to Darwin from St. Andrews) 
there is an excellent library here, with a good copy of Suarez, in 
a dozen big folios. Among these I dived, to the great astonish- 
ment of the librarian, and looking into them as " the careful 
robin eyes the delver's toil " (vide Idylls), I carried off the two 
venerable clasped volumes which were most promising. 

So I have come out in the new character of a defender of 
Catholic orthodoxy, and upset Mivart out of the mouth of his 
own prophet. 

Darwin himself was more than pleased with the article, 
and wrote enthusiastically (see Life and Letters, iii. 148-150). 
A few of his generous words may be quoted to show the 
rate at which he valued his friend's championship. 

What a wonderful man you are to grapple with those old 
metaphysico-divinity books. . . . The pendulum is now swinging 
against our side, but I feel positive it will soon swing the other 
way; and no mortal man will do half as much as you in giving 
it a start in the right direction, as you did at the first com- 

And again, after " mounting climax on climax," he con- 
tinues : — " I must tell you what Hooker said to me a few 
years ago. * When I read Huxley, I feel quite infantile in 
intellect' " 

This sketch of what constituted his holiday — ^and it was 
not very much busier than many another holiday — may 
possibly suggest what his busy time must have been like. 


Till the end of the year the immense amount of work 
did not apparently tell upon him. He rejoiced in it. In 
December he remarked to his wife that with all his different 
irons in the fire, he had never felt his mind clearer or his 
vigour greater. Within a week he broke down quite sud- 
denly, and could neither work nor think. He refers to this 
in the following letter : — 

Jermyn Street, Dec, 22, 1871. 

My dear Johnny — ^You are certainly improving. As a 
practitioner in the use of cold steel myself, I have read your 
letter in to-day*s Nature, " mit Ehrfurcht und Bewunderung." 
And the best evidence of the greatness of your achievement is 
that it extracts this expression of admiration from a poor devil 
whose brains and body are in a colloid state, and who is off to 
Brighton for a day or two this afternoon. 

God be with thee, my son, and strengthen the contents of 
thy gall-bladder !— Ever thine, T. H. Huxley. 

PS. — Seriously, I am glad that at last a protest has been 
raised against the process of anonymous self-praise to which 
our friend is given. I spoke to Smith the other day about that 
dose of it in the " Quarterly " article on Spirit-rapping. 



Dyspepsia, that most distressing of maladies, .had laid 
firm hold upon him. He was compelled to take entire rest 
for a time. But his first holiday produced no lasting effect, 
and in the summer he was again very ill. Then the worry 
of a troublesome lawsuit in connection with the building 
of his new house intensified both bodily illness and mental 
depression. He had great fears of being saddled with heavy 
costs at the moment when he was least capable of meeting 
any new expense — hardly able even to afford another much- 
needed spell of rest. But in his case, as in others, at this 
critical moment the circle of fellow-workers in science to 
whom he was bound by ties of friendship, resolved that he 
should at least not lack the means of recovery. In their 
name Charles Darwin wrote him the following letter, of 
which it is difficult to say whether it does more honour to 
him who sent it or to him who received it : — 

Down, Beckenham, Kent, April 23, 1873. 
My dear Huxley — I have been askecf by some of your 
friends (eighteen in number) to inform you that they have 
placed through Robarts, Lubbock & Company, the sum of £2100 
to your account at your bankers. We have done this to enable 
you to get such complete rest as you may require for the re- 
establishment of your health; and in doing this we are con- 
vinced that we act for the public interest, as well as in accord- 
ance with our most earnest desires. Let me assure you that 
we are all your warm personal friends, and that there is not a 
stranger or mere acquaintance amongst us. If you could have 
heard what was said, or could have read what was, as I believe, 
our inmost thoughts, you would know that we all feel towards 


i87a AT GIBRALTAR 395 

you, as we should to an honoured and much loved brother. I 
am sure that you will return this feeling, and will therefore 
be glad to give us the opportunity of aiding you in some degree, 
as this will be a happiness to us to the last day of our lives. 
Let me add that our plan occurred to several of your friends at 
nearly the same time and quite independently of one another. 
— My dear Huxley, your affectionate friend, 

Charles Darwin. 

It was a poignant moment. "What have I done to 
deserve this ? " he exclaimed. The relief from anxiety, so 
generously proffered, entirely overcame him; and for the 
first time, he allowed himself to confess that in the long 
struggle against ill-health, he had been beaten; but, as he 
said, only enough to teach him humility. 

His first trip in search of health was in 1872, when he 
obtained two months' leave of absence, and prepared to go 
to the Mediterranean. His lectures to women on Physi- 
ology at South Kensington were taken over by Dr. Michael 
Foster, who had already acted as his substitute in the Ful- 
lerian course of 1868. But even on this cruise after health 
he was not altogether free from business. The stores of 
biscuit at Gibraltar and Malta were infested with a small 
grub and its cocoons. Complaints to the home authorities 
were met by the answer that the stores were prepared from 
the purest materials and sent out perfectly free from the 
pest. Discontent among the men was growing serious, 
when he was requested by the Admiralty to investigate the 
nature of the grub and the best means of preventing its 
ravages. In the end he found that the biscuits were packed 
within range of stocks of newly arrived, unpurified cocoa, 
from which the eggs were blown into the stores while being 
packed, and there hatched out. Thereafter the packing was 
done in another place and the complaints ceased. 

Jan, 3, 1872. 

My dear Dohrn — It is true enough that I am somewhat 
"erkrankt," though beyond general weariness, incapacity and 
disgust with things in general, I do not precisely know what 
is the matter with me. 

Unwillingly, I begin to suspect that I overworked myself 


last year. Doctors talk seriously to me, and declare that all 
sorts of wonderful things will happen if I do not take some 
more efficient rest than I have had for a long time. My wife 
adds her quota of persuasion and admonition, until I really begin 
to think I must do something, if only to have peace. 

What if I were to come and look you up in Naples, some- 
where in February, as soon as my lectures are over? 

The "one-plate system" might cure me of my incessant 
dyspeptic nausea. A detestable grub— larva of Ephestia elatella 
—has been devouring Her Majesty's stores of biscuits at Gibral- 
tar. I have had to look into his origin, history, and best way 
of circumventing him — and maybe I shall visit Gibraltar and 
perhaps Malta. In that case, you will see me turn up some of 
these days at the Palazzo Torlonia. 

Herbert Spencer has written a friendly attack on " Adminis- 
trative Nihilism," which I will send you ; in the same number of 
the Fortnightly there is an absurd epicene splutter on the same 
subject by Mill's step-daughter, Miss Helen Taylor. I intended 
to publish the paper separately, with a note about Spencer's 
criticism, but I have had no energy nor faculty to do anything 

Tell Lankester, with best regards, that I believe the teach- 
ing of teachers in 1872 is arranged, and that I shall look for 
his help in due course. 

The " Happy family " have had the measles since you saw 
them, but they are well again. 

I write in Jermyn Street, so they cannot send messages; 
otherwise there would be a chorus from them and the wife of 
good wishes and kind remembrances. — Ever yours, 

T. H. Huxley. 

He left Southampton on January 11, in the Malta. On 
the i6th, he notes in his diary, " I was up just in time to 
see the great portal of the Mediterranean well. It was a 
lovely morning, and nothing could be grander than Ape 
Hill on one side and the Rock on the other, looking like 
great lions or sphinxes on each side of a gateway." 

The morning after his arrival he breakfasted with Ad- 
miral Hornby, who sent him over to Tangier in the Helicon^ 
giving the Bishop of Gibraltar a passage at the same time. 
This led him to note down, " How the naval men love 
Baxter and all his works." A letter from Dr. Hooker to 

i872 IN EGYPT 397 

Sir John Hay ensured him a most hospitable welcome, 
though continual rain spoiled his excursions. On the 21st 
he returned to Gibraltar, leaving three days later in the 
Nyanza for Alexandria, which was reached on February i. 
At that " muddy hole " he landed in pouring rain, and it 
was not till he reached Cairo the following day that he at 
last got into his longed-for sunshine. 

Seeing that three of his eight weeks had been spent in 
merely getting to sunshine, his wife and doctor conspired to 
apply for a third month of leave, which was immediately 
granted, so that he now had time to go up the Nile as far 
as Assouan in that most restful of conveyances, a dahabiah. 

Cairo more than answered his expectations. He stayed 
here till the 13th, making several excursions in company 
with Sir W. Gregory, notably to Boulak Museum, where 
he particularly notes the "man with ape" from Memphis; 
and, of course, the pyramids, of which he remarks that 
Cephren's is cased at the top with limestone, not granite. 
His note-book and sketch-book show that he was equally 
interested in archaeology, in the landscape and scenes of 
everyday life, and in the peculiar geographical and geologi- 
cal features of the country. His first impression of the 
Delta was its resemblance to Belgium and Lincolnshire. 
He has sections and descriptions of the Mokatta hill, and 
the windmill mound, with a general panorama of the sur- 
rounding country and an explanation of it. He remarks at 
Memphis how the unburnt brick of which the mounds are 
made up had in many places become remanie into a strati- 
fied deposit — distinguishable from Nile mud chiefly by the 
pottery fragments — and notes the bearing of this fact on 
the Cairo mounds. It is the same on his trip up the Nile ; 
he jots down the geology whenever opportunity offered; 
remarks, as indication of the former height of the river, a 
high mud-bank beyond Edfou, and near Assouan a pot- 
hole in the granite fifty feet above the present level. Here 
is a detailed description of the tomb of Aahmes; there a 
river-scene beside the pyramid of Meidum ; or vivid sketches 
of vulture and jackal at a meal in the desert, the jackal in 
possession of the carcass, the vulture impatiently waiting 


his good pleasure for the last scraps ; of the natives working" 
at the endless shadoofs; of a group of listeners around a 
professional story-teller — ^unfinished, for he was observed 
sketching them. 

Egypt left a profound impression upon him. His 
artistic delight in it apart, the antiquities and geology of 
the country were a vivid illustration to his trained eye of the 
history of man and the influence upon him of the surround- 
ing country, the link between geography and history. 

He left behind him for a while a most unexpected 
memorial of his visit. A friend not long after going to the 
pyramids, was delighted to find himself thus adjured by a 
donkey-boy, who tried to cut out his rival with " Not him 
donkey, sah ; him donkey bad, sah ; my donkey good ; my 
donkey 'Fessor-uxley donkey, sah." It appears that the 
Cairo donkey-boys have a way of naming their animals after 
celebrities whom they have borne on their backs. 

While at Thebes, on his way down the river again, he 
received news of the death of the second son of Matthew 
Arnold, to whom he wrote the following letter : — 

Thebes, March lo, 1872. 

My dear Arnold— I cannot tell you how shocked I was to 
see in the papers we received yesterday the announcement of 
the terrible blow which has fallen upon Mrs. Arnold and your- 

Your poor boy looked such a fine manly fellow the last time 
I saw him, when we dined at your house, that I had to read the 
paragraph over and over again before I could bring myself to 
believe what I read. And it is such a grievous opening of a 
wound hardly yet healed that I hardly dare to think of the 
grief which must have bowed down Mrs. Arnold and yourself. 

I hardly know whether I do well in writing to you. If such 
trouble bcfel me there are very few people in the world from 
whom I could bear even sympathy — ^but you would be one of 
them, and therefore I hope that you will forgive a condolence 
which will reach you so late as to disturb rather than soothe, 
for the sake of the hearty affection which dictates it. 

My wife has told me of the very kind letter you wrote her. 
I was thoroughly broken down when I left England, and did 
not get much better until I fell into the utter and absolute 


laziness of dahabieh life. A month of that has completely set 
me up. I am as well as ever; and though very grateful to Old 
Nile for all that he has done for me — not least for a whole uni- 
verse of new thoughts and pictures of life — I begin to feel 

* the need of a world of men for me.* 

But I am not going to overwork myself again. Pray make my 
kindest remembrances to Mrs. Arnold, and believe me, always 
yours very faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Leaving Assouan on March 3, and Cairo on the i8th, 
he returned by way of Messina to Naples, taking a day at 
Catania to look at Etna. At Naples he found his friend 
Dohm was absent, and his place as host was filled by his 
father. Vesuvius was ascended, Pozzuoli and Pompeii vis- 
ited, and two days spent in Rome. 

Hotel de Grande Bretagne, Naples. 
March 31, 1872. 

My dear Tyndall — Your very welcome letter did not reach 
me until the i8th of March, when I returned to Cairo from my 
expedition to Assouan. Like Johnny Gilpin, I " little thought, 
when I set out, of running such a rig"; but while at Cairo I 
fell in with Ossory of the Athenaeum, and a very pleasant fellow, 
Charles Ellis, who had taken a dahabieh, and were about to 
start up the Nile. They invited me to take possession of a 
vacant third cabin, and I accepted their hospitality, with the 
intention of going as far as Thebes and returning on my own 
hook. But when we got to Thebes I found there was no getting 
away again without much more exposure and fatigue than I 
felt justified in facing just then, and as my friends showed no 
disposition to be rid of me, I stuck to the boat, and only left 
them on the return voyage at Rodu, which is the terminus of 
the railway, about 150 miles from Cairo. 

We had an unusually quick journey, as I was little more 
than a month away from Cairo, and as my companions made 
themselves very agreeable, it was very pleasant. I was not 
particularly well at first, but by degrees the utter rest of this 
" always afternoon " sort of life did its work, and I am as well 
and vigorous now as ever I was in my life. 

I should have been home within a fortnight of the time I 
had originally fixed. This would have been ample time to have 



enabled me to fulfil all the engagements I had made before 
starting; and Donnelly had given me to understand that "My 
Lords " would not trouble their heads about my stretching my 
official leave. Nevertheless I was very glad to find the official 
extension (which was the eflFect of my wife's and your and 
Bence Jones's friendly conspiracy) awaiting me at Cairo. A 
rapid journey home via Brindisi might have rattled my brains 
back into the colloid state in which they were when I left Eng- 
land. Looking back through the past six months I begin to see 
that I have had a narrow escape from a bad break-down, and I 
am full of good resolutions. 

As the first-fruit of these you see that I have given up the 
school-board, and I mean to keep clear of all that semi-political 
work hereafter. I see that Sandon (whom I met at Alexandria) 
and Miller have followed my example, and that Lord Lawrence 
is likely to go. What a skedaddle ! 

It seems very hard to escape, however. Since my arrival 
here, on taking up the Times I saw a paragraph about the Lord 
Rectorship of St. Andrews. After enumerating a lot of candi- 
dates for that honour, the paragraph concluded, " But we under- 
stand that at present Professor Huxley has the best chance." 
It is really too bad if anyone has been making use of my name 
without my permission. But I don't know what to do about 
it. I had half a mind to write to Tulloch to tell him that I 
can't and won't take any such office, but I should look rather 
foolish if he replied that it was a mere newspaper report, and 
that nobody intended to put me up. 

Egypt interested me profoundly, but I must reserve the tale 
of all I did and saw there for word of mouth. From Alexandria 
I went to Messina, and thence made an excursion along the 
lovely Sicilian coast to Catania and Etna. The old giant was 
half covered with snow, and this fact, which would have tempted 
you to go to the top, stopped me. But I went to the Val del 
Bove, whence all the great lava streams have flowed for the 
last two centuries, and feasted my eyes with its rugged grandeur. 
From Messina I came on here, and had the great good fortune 
to find Vesuvius in eruption. Before this fact the vision of 
good Bence Jones forbidding much exertion vanished into thin 
air, and on Thursday up I went in company with Ray Lankester 
and my friend Dohrn's father, Dohrn himself being unluckily 
away. We had a glorious day, and did not descend till late at 
night. The great crater was not very active, and contented 
itself with throwing out great clouds of steam and volleys of 


red-hot stones now and then. These were thrown towards the 
south-west side of the cone, so that it was practicable to walk 
all round the northern and eastern lip, and look down into the 
Hell Gate. I wished you were there to enjoy the sight as much 
as I did. No lava was issuing from the great crater, but on 
the north side of this, a little way below the top, an independent 
cone had established itself as the most charming little pocket- 
volcano imaginable. It could not have been more than 100 
feet high, and at the top was a crater not more than six or 
seven feet across. Out of this, with a noise exactly resembling 
a blast furnace and a slowly-working high pressure steam engine 
combined, issued a violent torrent of steam and fragments of 
semi-fluid lava as big as one's Hst, and sometimes bigger. These 
shot up sometimes as much as 100 feet, and then fell down on 
the sides of the little crater, which could be approached within 
fifty feet without any danger. As darkness set in, the spectacle 
was most strange. The fiery stream found a lurid reflection 
in the slowly-drifting steam cloud, which overhung it, while the 
red-hot stones which shot through the cloud shone strangely 
beside the quiet stars in a moonlefls sky. 

Not from the top of this cinder cone, but from its side, a 
couple of hundred feet down, a stream of lava issued. At first 
it was not more than a couple of feet wide, but whether from 
receiving accessions or merely from the different form of slope, 
it got wider on its journey down to the Atrio del Cavallo, a 
thousand feet below. The slope immediately below the exit 
must have been near fifty, but the lava did not flow quicker than 
very thick treacle would do under like circumstances. And 
there were plenty of freshly cooled lava streams about, inclined 
at angles far greater than those which that learned Academician, 
Elie de Beaumont, declared to be possible. Naturally I was 
ashamed of these impertinent lava currents, and felt inclined 
to call them " Laves mousseuses." 

Courage, my friend, behold land ! I know you love my 
handwriting. I am off to Rome to-day, and this day- week, if 
all goes well, I shall be under my own roof-tree again. In fact 
I hope to reach London on Saturday evening. It will be jolly 
to see your face again. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

My best remembrances to Hirst if you see him before I do. 

My father reached home on April 6, sunburnt and 
bearded almost beyond recognition, but not really well, for 


as soon as he began to work again in London, his old enemy 
returned. Early hours, the avoidance of society and soci- 
eties, an hour's riding before starting at nine for South 
Kensington, were all useless ; the whole year was poisoned 
until a special diet prescribed by Dr. (afterwards Sir) An- 
drew Clark, followed by another trip abroad, effected a cure. 
I remember his saying once that he learned by sad ex- 
perience that such a holiday as that in Egypt was no good 
for him. What he really required was mountain air and 
plenty of exercise. The following letters fill up the outline 
of this period : — 

26 Abbey Place, May 20, 1872. 

My dear Dohrn — I suppose that you are now back in 
Naples, perambulating the Chiaja, and looking ruefully on the 
accumulation of ashes on the foundations of the aquarium ! 
The papers, at any rate, tell us that the ashes of Vesuvius have 
fallen abundantly at Naples. Moreover, that abominable 
municipality is sure to have made the eruption an excuse for 
all sorts of delays. May the gods give you an extra share of 
temper and patience ! 

What an unlucky dog our poor Ray is, to go and get fever 
when of all times in the world's history he should not have had 
it. However, I hear he is better and on his way home. I hope 
he will be well enough when he returns not only to get his 
Fellowship, but to help me in my schoolmaster work in June 
and July. 

I was greatly disgusted to miss you in Naples, but it was 
something to find your father instead. What a vigorous, genial 
youngster of three score and ten he is. I declare I felt quite 
aged beside him. We had a glorious day on Vesuvius, and be- 
haved very badly by leaving him at the inn for I do not know 
how many hours, while we wandered about the cone. But he 
had a very charming young lady for companion, and possibly 
had the best of it. I am very sorry that at the last I went off 
in a hurry without saying " Good-bye " to him, but I desired 
Lankester to explain, and I am sure he will have sympathised 
with my anxiety to see Rome. 

I returned, thinking- myself very well, but a bad fit of dys- 
pepsia seized me, and I found myself obliged to be very idle 
and very careful of myself — neither of which things are to my 
taste. But I am right again now, and hope to have no more 
backslidings. However, I am afraid I may not be able to attend 


the Brighton meeting. In which case you will have to pay us a 
visit, wherever we may be — ^where, we have not yet made up 
our minds, but it will not be so far as St Andrews. 

Now for a piece of business. The new Governor of Ceylon 
is a friend of mine, and is proposing to set up a Natural History 
Museum in Ceylon. He wants a curator — some vigorous fellow 
with plenty of knowledge and power of organisation who will 
make use of his great opportunities. He tells me he thinks he 
can start him with £350 a year (and a house), with possible 
increase to £400. I do not know any one here who would an- 
swer the purpose. Can you recommend me any one? If you 
can let me know at once, and don't take so long in. writing to 
me as I have been in writing to you. 

I await the " Prophecies of the Holy Antonius " * anxiously. 
Like the Jews of old, I come of an unbelieving generation, and 
need a sign. The bread and the oil, also the chamber in the 
wall, shall not fail the prophet when he comes in August: nor 
Donner and Blitzes either. 

I leave the rest of the space for the wife. — Ever yours, 

T. H. H. 

The following is in reply to a jest of Dr. Dohm's — ^who 
was still a bachelor — upon a friend's unusual sort of offering 
to a young lady, 

I suspected the love affair you speak of, and thought the 
young damsel very attractive. I suppose it will come to nothing, 
even if he be disposed to add his hand to the iron and quinine, 
in the next present he offers. . . . And, oh my Diogenes, happy 
in a tub of arthropodous Entwickelungsgeschichte,f despise not 
beefsteaks, nor wives either. They also are good. 

Jermyn Street, June 5. 1872. 
My dear Dohrn — I have written to the Governor of Ceylon, 
and enclosed the first half of your letter to me as he under- 
stands High Dutch. I have told him that the best thing he can 
do is to write to you at Naples and tell you he will be very 
happy to see you as soon as you can come. And that if you do 
come you will give him the best possible advice about his 
museum, and let him have no rest until he has given you a site 
for a zoological station. 

♦ His work on the development of the Arthropoda. 
t History of Development, 



I have no doubt you will get a letter from him in three 
weeks or so. His name is Gregory, and you will find him a 
good-humoured acute man of the world, with a very great gen- 
eral interest in scientific and artistic matters. Indeed in art I 
believe he is a considerable connoisseur. 

I am very grieved to hear of your father's serious illness. 
At his age cerebral attacks are serious, and when we spent so 
many pleasant hours together at Naples, he seemed to have an 
endless store of vigour — very much like his son Anton. 

What put it into your head that I had any doubt of your 
power of work? I am ready to believe that you are Hydra in 
the matter of heads and Briareus in the matter of hands. 

... If you go to Ceylon I shall expect you to come back 
by way of England. It's the shortest route an)rwhere from 
India, though it may not look so on the map. 

How am I? Oh, getting along and just keeping the devil of 
dyspepsia at arm's length. The wife and other members of the 
H. F. are well, and would send you greetings if they knew I 
was writing to you. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

A little later Von Willemoes Suhm (" why the deuce 
does he have such a long name, instead of a handy mono- 
syllable or dissylable like Dohm or Huxley? ") was recom- 
mended for the post. He afterwards was one of the scien- 
tific staff of the Challenger, and died during the voyage. 


^«^- 5. 1872. 
My dear Dohrn — I trust you have not been very wroth 
with me for my long delay in answering your last letter. For 
the last six weeks I have been very busy lecturing daily to a 
batch of schoolmasters, and looking after their practical in- 
struction in the laboratory which the Government has, at last, 
given me. In the "intervals of business" I have been taking 
my share in a battle which has been raging between my friend 
Hooker of Kew and his official chief. . . . And moreover I have 
just had strength enough to get my daily work done and no 
more, and everything that could be put off has gone to the 
wall. Three days ago, the " Happy Family," bag and baggage, 
came to this remote corner, where I propose to take a couple 
of months' entire rest — and put myself in order for next winter's 
campaign. It is a little village five miles from the nearest town 


(which is Ilfracombe), and our house is at the head of a ravine 
running down to the sea. Our backs are turned to England 
and our faces to America with no land that I know of between. 
The country about is beautiful, and if you will come we will 
put you up at the little inn, and show you something better than 
even Swanage. There are slight difficulties about the commis- 
sariat, but that is the Hausfrau's business, and not mine. At 
the worst, bread, eggs, milk, and rabbits are certain, and the 
post from London takes two days ! 

MoRTHOE, Ilfracombe, N. Devon, 
-^«^. 23, 1872. 

My dear Whirlwind— I promise you all my books, past, 
present, and to come for the Aquarium. The best part about 
them is that they will not take up much room. Ask for Owen's 
by all means ; " Fas est etiam ab hoste doceri." I am very glad 
you have got the British Association publications, as it will be a 
good precedent for the Royal Society. 

Have you talked to Hooker about marine botany ? He may 
be able to help you as soon as X. the accursed (may jackasses 
sit upon his grandmother's grave, as we say in the East) leaves 
him alone. 

It is hateful that you should be in England without seeing 
us, and for the first time I lament coming here. The children 
howled in chorus when they heard that you could not come. At 
this moment the whole tribe and their mother have gone to the 
sea, and I must answer your letter before the post goes out, 
which it does here about half an hour after it comes in. — Ever 
yours very faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

In 1872 Huxley was at length enabled to establish in 
his regular classes a system of science teaching based upon 
laboratory work by the students, which he had long felt to 
be the only true method. It involved the verification of 
every fact by each student, and was a training in scientific 
method even more than in scientific fact. Had circum- 
stances only permitted, the new epoch in biological teaching 
might have been antedated by many years. But, as he says 
in the preface to the Practical Biology, 1875 — 

Practical work was forbidden by the limitations of space in 
the building in Jcrmyn Street, which possessed no room ap- 
plicable to the purpose of a laboratory, and I was obliged to 


content myself, for many years, with what seemed the next best 
thing, namely, as full an exposition as I could give, of the char- 
acters of certain plants and animals, selected as t)rpes of vege- 
table and animal organisation, by way of introduction to sys- 
tematic zoology and paleontology. 

There was no laboratory work, but he would show an 
experiment or a dissection during the lecture or perhaps 
for a few minutes after, when the audience crowded round 
the lecture table. 

The opportunity came in 1871. As he afterwards im- 
pressed upon the great city companies in regard to technical 
education, the teaching of science throughout the country 
turned upon the supply of trained teachers. The part to be 
played by elementary science under the Education Act of 
1870, added urgency to the question of proper teaching. 
With this in view, he organised a course of instruction for 
those who had been preparing pupils for the examinations 
of the Science and Art Department, " scientific mission- 
aries," as he described them to Dr. Dohm. 

In the promotion of the practical teaching of biology (writes 
the late Jeffery Parker, Nat, Sci. viii. 49), Huxley's services 
can hardly be overestimated. Botanists had always been in the 
habit of distributing flowers to their students, which they could 
dissect or not as they chose; animal histology was taught in 
many colleges under the name of practical physiology; and at 
Oxford an excellent system of zoological work had been estab- 
lished by the late Professor Rolleston.* But the biological 
laboratory, as it is now understood, may be said to date from 
about 1870, when Huxley, with the co-operation of Professors 

♦ ** Rolleston (Professor Lankester writes to me) was the first to 
systematically conduct the study of Zoology and Comparative Anat- 
omy in this country by making use of a carefully selected series of 
animals. His 'types' were the Rat, the Common Pigeon, the Frog, 
the Perch, the Crayfish, Blackbeetle, Anodon, Snail, Earthworm, 
Leech, Tapeworm. He had a series of dissections of these mounted, 
also loose dissections and elaborate MS. descriptions. The student 
went through this series, dissecting fresh specimens for himself. 
After some ten years* experience Rolleston printed his MS. directions 
and notes as a book, called Forms of Animal Life, 

**This all preceded the practical class at South Kensington in 1871. 
I have no doubt that Rolleston was influenced in his plan by your 


Foster, Rutherford, Lankester, Martin, and others,* held short 
summer classes for science teachers at South Kensington, the 
daily work consisting of an hour's lecture followed by four 
hours' laboratory work, in which the students verified for them- 
selves facts which they had hitherto heard about and taught to 
their unfortunate pupils from books alone. The naive astonish- 
ment and delight of the more intelligent among them was 
sometimes almost pathetic. One clergyman, who had for years 
conducted classes in physiology under the Science and Art De- 
partment, was shown a drop of his own blood under the micro- 
scope. " Dear me I " he exclaimed, " it's just like the picture 
in Huxley's Physiology,'* 

Later, in 1872, when the biological department of the 
Royal School of Mines was transferred to South Kensing- 
ton, this method was adopted as part of the regular cur- 
riculum of the school, and from that time the teaching " of 
zoology by lectures alone became an anachronism." 

The first of these courses to schoolmasters took place, 
as has been said, in 1871. Some large rooms on the ground 
floor of the South Kensington Museum were used for the 
purpose. There was no proper laboratory, but professor 
and demonstrators rigged up everything as wanted. Hux- 
ley was in the full tide of that more than natural energy 
which preceded his break-down in health, and gave what 
Professor Ray Lankester describes as " a wonderful course 
of lectures," one every day from ten to eleven for six weeks, 
in June and half July. The three demonstrators (those 
named first on the list above) each took a third of the class, 
about thirty-five apiece. " Great enthusiasm prevailed. We 
went over a number of plants and of animals — including 

father's advice. But RoUeston had the earlier opportunity of putting 
the method into practice. 

** Your father's series of types were chosen so as to include plants, 
and he gave more attention to microscopic forms and to microscopic 
structure than did Rolleston." 

It was distinctive of the lectures that they were on biology, on 
plants as well as animals, to illustrate all the fundamental features of 
living things. 

♦ T. J. Parker. G. B. Howes, and Sir W. Thiselton Dyer, K. C. M. G.. 
C. I. E. 



microscopic work and some physiological experiment. The 
* types ' were more numerous than in later courses." 

In 1872 the new laboratory — ^the present one — ^was 
ready. " I have a laboratory/' writes Huxley to Dohm, 
" which it shall do your eyes good to behold when you 
come back from Ceylon, the short way " {i,e, via England). 
Here a similar course, under the same demonstrators, as- 
sisted by H. N. Martin, was given in the summer, Huxley, 
though very shaky in health, making a point of carrying 
them out himself. 

26 Abbey Place, Jum 4, 1872. 

My dear Tyndall — I must be at work on examination 
papers all day to-day, but to-morrow I am good to lunch with 
you (and abscond from the Royal Commission, which will get 
on very well without me) or to go with you and call on your 
friends, whichever may be most convenient 

Many thanks for all your kind and good advice about the 
lectures, but I really think they will not be too much for me, 
and it is of the utmost importance I should carry them on. 

They are the commencement of a new system of teaching 
which, if I mistake not, will grow into a big thing and bear 
great fruit, and just at this present moment (nobody is neces- 
sary very long) I am the necessary man to carry it on. I could 
not get a suppleant if I would, and you are no more the man 
than I am to let a pet scheme fall through for the fear of a 
little risk of self. And really and truly I find that by taking 
care I pull along very well. Moreover, it isn't my brains that 
get wrong, but only my confounded stomach. 

I have read your memorial * which is very strong and strik- 
ing, but a difficulty occurs to me about a good deal of it, and 
that is that it won't do to quote Hooker's official letters before 
they have been called for in Parliament, or otherwise made 
public. We should find ourselves in the wrong officially, I am 
afraid, by doing so. However we can discuss this when we 
meet. I will be at the Athenaeum at 4 o'clock. — Ever yours 
faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

As for the teaching by "types," which was the most 
salient feature of his method, and therefore the most easily 
applied and misapplied, Professor Parker continues: — 

♦ In the affair of Dr. Hooker already referred to. 


Huxley's method of teachings was based upon the personal 
examination by the student of certain "types" of animals and 
plants selected with a view of illustrating the various groups. 
But, in his lectures, these types were not treated as the isolated 
things they necessarily appear in a laboratory manual or an 
examination syllabus; each, on the contrary, took its proper 
place as an example of a particular grade of structure, and no 
student of ordinary intelligence could fail to see that the types 
were valuable, not for themselves, but simply as marking, so to 
speak, the chapters of a connected narrative. Moreover, in 
addition to the types, a good deal of work of a more general 
character was done. Thus, while we owe to Huxley more than 
to anyone else the modern system of teaching biology, he is by 
no means responsible for the somewhat arid and mechanical 
aspect it has assumed in certain quarters. 

The application of the same system to botanical teaching 
was inaugurated in 1873, when, being compelled to go 
abroad for his health, he arranged that Mr. (now Sir W.) 
Thiselton Dyer should take his place and lecture on 

The Elementary Instruction in Biology^ published in 1875, 
was a text-book based upon this system. This book, in 
writing which Huxley was assisted by his demonstrator, 
H. N. Martin, was reprinted thirteen times before 1888, 
when it was " Revised and Extended by Howes and Scott," 
his later assistants. The revised edition is marked by one 
radical change, due to the insistence of his demonstrator, 
the late Prof. Jeffery Parker. In the first edition, the lower 
forms of life were first dealt with; from simple cells — 
amoeba, yeast-plant, blood-corpuscule — the student was 
taken through an ascending series of plants and of animals, 
ending with the frog or rabbit. But " the experience of 
the Lecture-room and the Laboratory taught me," writes 
Huxley in the new preface, " that philosophical as it might 
be in theory, it had defects in practice." The process might 
be regarded as not following the scientific rule of proceeding 
from the known to the unknown; while the small and 
simple organisms required a skill in handling high power 
microscopes which was difficult for beginners to acquire. 
Hence the course was reversed, and began with the more 



familiar type of the rabbit or frog. This was RoUeston's 
practice ; but it may be noted that Professor Ray Lankester 
has always maintained and further developed the " original 
Huxleian plan of beginning with the same microscopic 
forms " as being a most important philosophic improvement 
on RoUeston's plan, and giving, he considers, " the truer 
* twist,' as it were, to a student's mind." 

When the book was sent to Darwin, he wrote back 
(November 12, 1875): — 

My dear Huxley — Many thanks for your biology, which 
I have read. It was a real stroke of genius to think of such a 
plan. Lord, how I wish that I had gone through such a course. 
— Ever yours, ' C. Darwin. 

A large portion of his time and energy was occupied 
in the organisation of this course of teaching for teachers, 
and its elaboration before being launched on a larger scale 
in October, when the Biological Department of the Jermyn 
Street school was transferred to the new buildings at South 
Kensington, fitted with laboratories which were to excite his 
friend Dr. Dohm's envy. But he was also at work upon his 
share of the Science Primers y so far as his still uncertain 
health allowed. This and the affairs of the British Associa- 
tion are the subject of several letters to Sir Henry Roscoe 
and Dr. Tyndall. 

26 Abbey Place, Apri/ 8, 1872. 

My dear Roscoe — Many thanks for your kind letter of wel- 
come. My long rest has completely restored me. As my doctor 
told me, I was sound, wind and limb, and had merely worn my- 
self out. I am not going to do that again, and you see that I 
have got rid of the School Board. It was an awful incubus ! 

Oddly enough I met the Ashtons in the Vatican, and heard 
about your perplexities touching Oxford. I should have advised 
you to do as you have done. I think that you have a great 
piece of work to do at Owens College, and that you will do it. 
If you had gone to Oxford you would have sacrificed all the 
momentum you have gained in Manchester ; and would have had 
to begin de novo, among conditions which, I imagine, it is very 
hard for a non-University man to appreciate and adjust him- 
self to. 

I like the look of the " Primers " (of which Macmillan has 


sent me copies to-day) very much, and shall buckle to at mine 
as soon as possible. I am very glad you did not wait for me. 
I remained in a very shaky condition up to the middle of March, 
and could do nothing. — ^Ever yours very faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 
The wife unites with me in kind regards to Mrs. Roscoe and 

MoRTHOE, Ilfracombe, N. Devon, 
/ * Sept, 9, 1872. 

My dear Tyndall — I was very glad to have news of you, 
and to hear that you are vigorous. 

My outing hitherto has not been very successful, so far as 
the inward man is concerned at least, for the weather has been 
good enough. • But I have been worried to death with dyspepsia 
and the hypochondriacal bedevilments that follow in its train, 
until I am seriously thinking of returning to town to see if the 
fine air of St. John's Wood (as the man says in Punch) won't 
enable me to recover from the effects of the country. 

I wish I were going with you to Yankee Land, not to do any 
lecturing, God forbid! but to be a quiet spectator in a comer 
of the enthusiastic audiences. I am as lazy as a dog, and the 
role of looker-on would just suit me. However, I have a good 
piece of work to do in organising my new work at South Ken- 

I have just asked my children what message they have to 
send to you, and they send their love ; very sorry they won't see 
you before you go, and hope you won't come back speaking 
through your nose ! 

I shall be in town this week or next, and therefore shall see 
you. — Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

26 Abbey Place, S<pf, 17, 1872. 

My dear Roscoe — ^Your letter has followed me from Mor- 
thoe here. We had good enough weather in Devon — ^but my 
stay there was marred by the continuous dyspepsia and concur- 
rent hypochondriacal incapacity. At last, I could not stand it 
any longer, and came home for "change of air," leaving the 
wife and chicks to follow next week. By dint of living on cocoa 
and Revalenta, and giving up drink, tobacco, and all other 
things that make existence pleasant, I am getting better. 

What was your motive in getting kicked by a horse? I 
stopped away from the Association without that; and am not 
sorry to have been out of the way of the X. business. What is 



to become of the association if is to monopolise it? And 

then there was that scoundrel, Louis Napoleon — ^to whom no 
honest man ought to speak — gracing the scene. I am right glad 
I was out of it 

I am at my wits' end to suggest a lecturer for you. I wish 
I could offer myself, but I have refused everything of that sort 
on the score of health ; and moreover, I am afraid of my wife I 

What do you say to Ramsay? He lectures very well. I 
have done nothing whatever to the Primer. Stewart sent me 
Geikie's letter this morning, and I have asked Macmillan to 
send Geikie the proofs of my Primer so far as they go. We 
must not overlap more than can be helped. 

I have not seen Hooker yet since my return. While all this 
row has been going on, I could not ask him to do anything for 
us. And imtil X. is dead and d — d (officially at any rate), I am 
afraid there will be little peace for him. — Ever yours very faith- 
fully, T. H. Huxley. 

Please remember me very kindly to Mrs. Roscoe. 

In a letter of September 25 is a reference to the way in 
which his increasing family had outgrown his house in 
Abbey Place. Early in the preceding year, he had come to 
the decision to buy a small house in the same neighbour- 
hood, and add to it so as to give elbow-room to each and 
all of the family. This was against the advice of his friend 
and legal adviser, to whom he wrote announcing his de- 
cision, as follows. The letter was adorned with a sketch of 
an absurd cottage, " Ye House ! " perched like a windmill 
on a kind of pedestal, and with members of the family 
painfully ascending a ladder to the upper storey, above the 
ominous legend, " Staircase forgotten." 

March 20, 1 871. 

My dear Burton — There is something delightfully refresh- 
ing in rushing into a piece of practical work in the teeth of 
one's legal adviser. 

If the lease of a piece of ground whereon I am going to 
build mine house come to you, will you see if it's all right. — 
Yours wilfully, T. H. Huxley. 

This house. No. 4 Marlborough Place, stands on the 
north side of that quiet street, close to its junction with 
Abbey Road. It is next door to the Presb)rterian Church, 


on the other side of which again is a Jewish synagogue. 
The irregular front of the house, with the original cottage, 
white-painted and deep-eaved, joined by a big porch to the 
new uncompromising square face of yellow brick, distin- 
guished only by its extremely large windows, was screened 
from the road by a high oak paling, and a well-grown row 
of young lime trees. Taken as a whole, it was not without 
character, and certainly was unlike most London houses. 
It was built for comfort, not beauty ; designed, within strin- 
gent limits as to cost, to give each member of the family 
room to get away by himself or herself if so disposed. 
Moreover, the gain in space made it more possible to see 
something of friends or put up a guest, than in the small 
and crowded house in Abbey Place. 

A small garden lay in front of the house; a consid- 
erably larger garden behind, wherein the chief ornament 
was then a large apple-tree, that never failed to spread 
a cloud of blossom for my father's birthday, the 4th of 

Over the way, too, for many years we were faced by a 
long garden full of blossoming pear-trees in which thrushes 
and blackbirds sang and nested, belonging to a desolate 
house in the Abbey Road, which was tenanted by a soli- 
tary old man, supposed to be a male prototype of Miss 
Havisham in Great Expectations. 

The move was accompanied by a unique and unpleasant 
experience. A knavish fellow, living in a cottage close to 
the foot of the garden, sought to blackmail the new-comer, 
under threat of legal proceedings, alleging that a catchment 
well for surface drainage had made his basement damp. 
Unfortunately for his case, it could be shown that the pipes 
had not yet been connected with the well, and when he 
carried out his threat, he gained nothing from his suit in 
Chancery and his subsequent appeal, except some stinging 
remarks from Vice-Chancellor Malins. 

I am afraid the brute is impecunious (wrote my father after 
the first suit failed), and that I shall get nothing out of him. 
So I shall have had three months' worry, and be fined £100 or 
so for being wholly and absolutely in the right. 


Happily the man turned out to have enough means to 
pay the bulk of the costs; but that was no compensation 
for the mental worry and consequent ill-health entailed from 
November to June. 

The only amusing point in the whole affair was when 
the plaintiff's solicitors had the face to file an affidavit before 
the Vice-Chancellor himself in answer to his strictures upon 
the case, " about as regular a proceeding," reports Mr. 
Burton, " as for a middy to reply upon the Post Captain 
on his own quarter-deck." 

The move was made in the third week of December 
(1872) amid endless rain and mud and with workmen still 
in the house. It was attended by one inconvenience. He 
writes to Darwin on December 20, 1872 : — 

I am utterly disgusted at having only just received your 
note of Tuesday. But the fact is, there is a certain inconven- 
ience about having four addresses as has been my case for the 
most part of this week, in consequence of our moving — and as 
I have not been to Jermyn Street before to-day, I have missed 
your note. I should run round to Queen Anne St now on the 
chance of catching you, but I am bound here by an appoint- 

One incident of the move, however, was more agreeable. 
Mr. Herbert Spencer took the opportunity of sending a New 
Year's gift for the new house, in the shape of a handsome 
clock, wishing, as he said, " to express in some way more 
emphatic than by words, my sense of the many kindnesses 
I have received at your hands during the twenty years of 
our friendship. Remembrance of the things you have done 
in furtherance of my aims, and of the invaluable critical aid 
you have given me, with so much patience and at so much 
cost of time, has often made me feel how much I owe you." 

After a generous reference to occasions when the warmth 
of debate might have betrayed him into more vigorous ex- 
pressions than he intended, he concludes : — 

But inadequately as I may ordinarily show it, you will 
(knowing that I am tolerably candid) believe me when I say 
that there is no one whose judgment on all subjects I so much 
respect, or whose friendship I so highly value. 

1873 TYNDALL'S LOAN 415 

It may be remembered that the 1872 address on " Ad- 
ministrative Nihilism " led tp a reply from the pen of Mr. 
Spencer, as the champion of Individualism. When my 
father sent him the volume in which this address was printed, 
he wrote back a letter (Sept. 29, 1873) which is characterised 
by the same feeling. It expresses his thanks for the book, 
" and many more for the kind expression of feeling in the 
preface. If you had intended to set an example to the 
Philistines of the way in which controversial differences 
may be maintained without any decrease of sympathy, you 
could not have done it more perfectly." 

In connection with the building of the house, Tyndall 
had advanced a sum of money to his friend, and with his 
usual generosity, not only received interest with the greatest 
reluctance, but would have liked to make a gift of the 
principal. He writes, " If I remain a bachelor I will cir- 
cumvent you — if not — not. It cleaves to me like dirt — ^and 
that is why you wish to get rid of it" To this he received 
answer : — 

Feb, 26, 1873. 
I am not to be deterred by any amount of bribery and cor- 
ruption, from bringing you under the yoke of a " rare and 
radiant," — whenever I discover one competent to undertake the 
ticklish business of governing you. I hope she will be " radiant," 
— ^uncommonly " rare " she certainly will be I 

Two years later this loan was paid off, with the following 
letter :— 

4 Marlborough Place, /a». 11, 1875. 
My dear old Shylock — My argosies have come in, and here 
is all that was written in the bond I If you want the pound of 
flesh too, you know it is at your service, and my Portia won't 
raise that pettifogging objection to shedding a little blood into 
the bargain, which that other one did. — Ever yours faithfully, 

T. H. Huxley. 

On October 24 Miss Jex Blake wrote to him to ask his 
help for herself and the other women medical students at 
Edinburgh. For two years they had only been able to get 
anatomical teaching in a mixed class ; but wishing to have 
a separate class, at least for the present, they had tried to 


arrange for one that session. The late demonstrator at the 
Surgeons' Hall, who had given. them most of their teaching 
before, had undertaken to teach this separate class, but was 
refused recognition by the University Court, on the ground 
that they had no evidence of his qualifications, wiiile refusing 
to let him prove his qualification by examination. This the 
women students Imderstood to be an indirect means of sup- 
pressing their aspirations; they therefore begged Huxley 
to examine their instructor with a view to giving him a 
certificate which should carry weight with the University 

He replied: — 

Oct. 28, 1872. 

Dear MiVDAM — ^While I fully sympathise with the efforts 
made by yourself and others, to obtain for women the education 
requisite to qualify them for medical practice, and while I think 
that women who have the inclination and the capacity to follow 
the profession of medicine are most unjustly dealt with if any 
obstacles beyond those which are natural and inevitable are 
placed in their way, I must nevertheless add, that I as com- 
pletely sympathise with those Professors of Anatomy, Physi- 
ology, and Obstetrics, who object to teach such subjects to 
mixed classes of young men and women brought together with- 
out any further evidence of moral and mental fitness for such 
association than the payment of their fees. 

In fact, with rare exceptions, I have refused to admit women 
to my own Lectures on Comparative Anatomy for many years 
past. But I should not hesitate to teach anything I know to a 
class composed of women ; and I find it hard to believe that any 
one should really wish to prevent women from obtaining efficient 
separate instruction, and from being admitted to Examination 
for degrees upon the same terms as men. 

You will therefore understand that I should be most glad 
to help you if I could — and it is with great regret that I feel 
myself compelled to refuse your request to examine Mr. H . 

In the first place I am in the midst of my own teaching, and 
with health not yet completely re-established I am obliged to 
keep clear of all unnecessary work. Secondly, such an examina- 
tion must be practical, and I have neither dissecting-room 
available nor the anatomical license required for human dis- 
section ; and thirdly, it is not likely that the University authori- 
ties would attach much weight to my report on one or two 


days' work — if the fact that Mr. H has already filled the 

office of anatomical Demonstrator (as I understand from you) 
does not satisfy them as to his competency. — I am, dear Madam, 
yours very faitfifuUy, T. H. Huxley 

Miss S. Jex Blake. 

The last event of the year was that he was elected by 
the students Lord Rector of Aberdeen University — a posi- 
tion, the duties of which consist partly in attending certain 
meetings of the University Court, but more especially in 
delivering an address. This, however, was not required for 
another twelvemonth, and the address on " Universities, 
Actual and Ideal," was delivered in fulfilment of this duty 
on February 1874, 



The year opens with a letter to Tyndall, then on a 
lecturing tour in America : — 

4 Marlborough Place, Abbey Road, N.W., 
January I, 1872 [1873]. 

My dear Tyndall — I cannot let this day go by without 
wishing you a happy New Year, and lamenting your absence 
from our customary dinner. But Hirst and Spencer and 
Michael Foster are coming, and they shall drink your health in 
champagne while I do the like in cold water, making up by the 
strength of my good wishes for the weakness of the beverage. 

You see I write from the new house. Getting into it was an 
awful job, made worse than needful by the infamous weather we 
have had for weeks and months, and by the stupid delays of the 
workmen whom we had fairly to shove out at last as we came 
in. We are settling down by degrees, and shall be very com- 
fortable by and by, though I do not suppose that we shall be 
able to use the drawing-room for two or three months to come. 
I am very glad to have made the change, but there is a draw- 
back to everything in " this here wale," as Mrs. Gamp says, 
and my present thorn in the flesh is a neighbour, who says I 
have injured him by certain operations in my garden, and is 
trying to get something out of me by Chancery proceedings. 
Fancy finding myself a defendant in Chancery ! 

It is particularly hard on me, as I have been especially care- 
ful to have nothing done without Burton's sanction and assur- 
ance that I was quite safe in law; and I would have given up 
anything than have got into bother of this kind. But " sich 
is life." 

You seem to have been making a Royal Progress in Yankee- 
land. We have been uncommonly tickled with some of the 


reports of your lectures which reached us, especially with that 
which spoke of your having " a strong English accent." 

The loss of your assistant seems to have been the only de- 
duction to be made from your success. I am afraid you must 
have felt it much in all ways. 

" My Lord " received your telegram only after the business 
of " securing Hirst " was done. That is one of the bright spots 
in a bad year for me. Goschen consulted Spottiswoode and me 
independently about the headship of the new Naval College, 
and was naturally considerably surprised by the fact that we 
coincided in recommending Hirst. . . . The upshot was that 
Goschen asked me to communicate with Hirst and see if he 
would be disposed to accept the offer. So I did, and found to 
my great satisfaction that Hirst took to the notion very kindly. 
I am sure he is the very best man for the post to be met with 
in the three kingdoms, having that rare combination of qualities 
by which he gets on with all manner of men, and singularly 
attracts young fellows. He will not only do his duty, but be 
beloved for doing it, which is what few people can compass. 

I have little news to give you. The tail of the X.-Hooker 
storm is drifting over the scientific sky in the shape of fresh 
attacks by Owen on Hooker. Hooker answered the last 
angelically, and I hope they are at an end. 

The wife has just come in and sends her love (but is careful 
to add "second-best"). The chicks grow visibly and audibly, 
and Jess looks quite a woman. All are well except myself, and I 
am getting better from a fresh breakdown of dyspepsia. I find 
that if I am to exist at all it must be on strictly ascetic prin- 
ciples, so there is hope of my dying in the odour of sanctity 
yet. If you recollect, Lancelot did not know that he should " die 
a holy man " till rather late in life. I have forgotten to tell you 
about the Rectorship of Aberdeen. I refused to stand at first, 
on the score of health, and only consented on condition that I 
should not be called upon to do any public work until after the 
long vacation. It was a very hard fight, and although I had an 
absolute majority of over fifty, the mode of election is such that 
one vote, in one of the four nations, would have turned the 
scale by giving my opponent the majority in that nation. We 
should then have been ties, and as the chancellor, who has under 
such circumstances a casting vote, would have (I believe) given 
it against me, I should have been beaten. 

As it is, the fact of anyone, who stinketh in the nostrils of 
orthodoxy, beating a Scotch peer at his own gates in the most 


orthodox of Scotch cities, is a curious sign of the times. The 
reason why they made such a tremendous fight for me, is I 
believe, that I may carry on the reforms commenced by Grant 
DuflF, my predecessor. Unlike other Lord Rectors, he of Aber- 
deen is a power and can practically govern the action of the 
University during his tenure of office. 

I saw Pollock yesterday, and he says that they want you 
back again. Curiously the same desire is epidemically prevalent 
among your friends, not least here. — Ever yours, 

T. H. Huxley. 

In spite of his anxieties, his health was slowly improving 
under careful regimen. He published no scientific memoirs 
this year, but in addition to his regular lectures, he was 
working to finish his Manual of Invertebrate Anatomy and 
his Introductory Primer, and to write his Aberdeen address ; 
he was also at work upon the Pedigree of the Horse and on 
Bodily Motion and Consciousness, He delivered a course to 
teachers on Psychology and Physiology, and was much 
occupied by the Royal Commission on Science. As a gov- 
ernor of Owens College he had various meetings to attend, 
though his duties did not extend, as some of his friends 
seem to have thought, to the appointment of a Professor 
of Physiology there. 

My life (he writes to Sir Henry Roscoe) is becoming a 

burden to me because of . Why I do not know, but for 

some reason people have taken it into their heads that I have 
something to do with appointments in Owens College, and no 
fewer than three men of whose opinion I think highly have 
spoken or written to me urging *s merits very strongly. 

This summer he again took a long holiday, thanks to 
the generosity of his friends (see p. 394), and with better 
results. He went with his old friend Hooker to the Au- 
verg^e, walking, geologising, sketching and gradually dis- 
carding doctor's orders. Sir Joseph Hooker has very kindly 
written me a letter from which I give an account of this 
trip : — 

It was during the many excursions we took together, either 
by ourselves or with one of my boys, that I knew him best at his 
best; and especially during one of several weeks' duration in 


the summer of 1873, which we spent in central France and 
Germany. He had been seriously ill, and was suffering from 
severe mental depression. For this he was ordered abroad by 
his physician, Sir A. Clark, to which step he offered a stubborn 
resistance. With Mrs. Huxley's approval, and being myself 
quite in the mood for a holiday, I volunteered to wrestle with 
him, and succeeded, holding out as an inducement a visit to the 
volcanic region of the Auvergne with Scrope's classical volume, 
which we both knew and admired, as a guide book. 

We started on July 2nd, I loaded with injunctions from his 
physician as to what his patient was to eat, drink, and avoid, 
how much he was to sleep and rest, how little to talk and walk, 
etc., that would have made the expedition a perpetual burthen 
to me had I not believed that I knew enough of my friend's dis- 
position and ailments to be convinced that not only health but 
happiness would be our companions throughout Sure enough, 
for the first few days, including a short stay in Paris, his spirits 
were low indeed, but this gave nie the opportunity of appreciat- 
ing his remarkable command over himself and his ever-present 
consideration for his companion. Not a word or gesture of irri- 
tation ever escaped him; he exerted himself to obey the in- 
structions laid down ; nay, more, he was instant in his endeavour 
to save me trouble at hotels, railway stations, and ticket offices. 
Still, some mental recreation was required to expedite recovery, 
and he found it first by picking up at a bookstall, a History of 
the Miracles of Lourdes, which were then exciting the religious 
fervour of France, and the interest of her scientific public. He 
entered with enthusiasm into the subject, getting together all 
the treatises upon it, favourable or the reverse, that were acces- 
sible, and I need hardly add, soon arrived at the conclusion, 
that the so-called miracles were in part illusions and for the 
rest delusions. As it may interest some of your readers to 
know what his opinion was in this the early stage of the mani- 
festations, I will give it as he gave it to me. It was a case of 
two peasant children sent in the hottest month of the year into 
a hot valley to collect sticks for firewood washed up by a stream, 
when one of them after stooping down opposite a heat-rever- 
berating rock, was, in rising, attacked with a transient vertigo, 
under which she saw a figure in white against the rock. This bare 
fact being reported to the cure of the village, all the rest followed. 

Soon after our arrival at Clermont Ferrand, your father had 
so far recovered his wonted elasticity of spirits that he took 
a keen interest in everything around, the museums, the cathedral. 


where he enjoyed the conclusion of the service by a military 
band which gave selections from the Figlia del Regimento, but 
above all he appreciated the walks and drives to the geological 
features of the environs. He reluctantly refrained from ascend- 
ing the Puy de Dome, but managed the Pic Parion, Gergovia, 
Royat, and other points of interest without fatigue. . . . 

After Qermont they visited the other four great volcanic 
areas explored by Scrope, Mont Dore, the Cantal, Le Puy, 
and the valley of the Ardeche. Under the care of his 
friend, and relieved from the strain of work, my father's 
health rapidly improved. He felt no bad effects from a 
night at Mont Dore, when, owing to the crowd of invalids 
in the little town, no better accommodation could be found 
than a couple of planks in a cupboard. Next day they 
took up their quarters in an unpretentious cabaret at La 
Tour d'Auvergne, one of the villages on the slopes of the 
mountain, a few miles away. 

Here (writes Sir J. Hooker), and for some time afterwards, 
on our further travels, we had many interesting and amusing 
experiences of rural life in the wilder parts of central France, 
its poverty, penury, and too often its inconceivable impositions 
and overcharges to foreigners, quite consistently with good feel- 
ing, politeness, and readiness to assist in many ways. 

By the loth of July, nine days after setting out, I felt satis- 
fied (he continues) that your father was equal to an excursion 
upon which he had set his heart, to the top of the Pic de Sancy, 
4000 feet above La Tour and 7 miles distant. 

It was on this occasion that the friends made what they 
thought a new discovery, namely evidence of glacial action 
in central France. Besides striated stones in the fields or 
built into the walls, they noticed the glaciated appearance 
of one of the valleys descending from the peak, and espe- 
cially some isolated gigantic masses of rock on an open part 
of the valley, several miles away, as to which they debated 
whether they were low buildings or transported blocks. Sir 
Joseph visited them next day, and found they were the latter, 
brought down from the upper part of the peak.* 

* He published an account of these blocks in Nature^ xiii. 31, 166, 
but subsequently found that glaciation had been observed by von 
Lassaul in 1872 and by Sir William Guise in 1870. 


Le Puy offered a special attraction apart from scenery 
and geology. In the museum was the skeleton of a pre- 
historic man that had been found in the breccia of the 
neighbourhood, associated with the remains of the rhinoce- 
ros, elephant, and other extinct mammals. My father's 
sketch-book contains drawings of these bones and of the 
ravine where they were discovered, although in spite of 
directions from M. Aymard, the curator, he could not find 
the exact spot. Under the sketch is a description of the 
remains, in which he notes, " The bones do not look fresher 
than some of those of Elephas and Rhinoceros in the same 
or adjacent cases." 

As for the final stage of the excursion : — 

After leaving the Ardeche (continues Sir J. Hooker), with 
no Scrope to lead or follow, our scientific ardours collapsed. We 
had vague views as to future travel. Whatever one proposed 
was unhesitatingly acceded to by the other. A more happy-go- 
lucky pair of idlers never joined company. 

As will be seen from the following letters, they made 
their way to the Black Forest, where they stayed till Sir 
Joseph's duties called him back to England, and my 
mother came out to join my father for the rest of his 

* You ask me (Sir Joseph adds) whether your father smoked on the 
occasion of this tour. Yes, he did, cigars in moderation. But the 
history of his addiction to tobacco that grew upon him later in life, 
dates from an earlier excursion that we took together, and I was the 
initiator of the practice. It happened in this wise : he had been 
suffering from what was supposed to be gastric irritation, and, being 
otherwise " run down," we agreed to go, in company with Sir John 
Lubbock, on a tour to visit the great monoliths of Brittany. This 
was in 1867. On arriving at Dinan he suffered so much that I recom- 
mended his trying a few cigarettes which I had with me. They acted 
as a charm, and this led to cigars, and finally, about 1875 I think, to 
the pipe. That he subsequently carried the use of tobacco to excess 
is, I think, unquestionable. I repeatedly remonstrated with him, at 
last I think (by backing his medical adviser) with effect. 

I have never blamed myself for the " teaching him " to smoke, for 
the practice habitually palliated his distressing symptoms when noth- 
ing else did, nor can his chronic illness be attributed to the abuse of 




The following letters to Sir H. Roscoe and Dr. Tyndall 
were written during this tour : — 

Lk Puy, Haute Loire, France, 
July 17, 1873. 

My dear Roscoe — Your very kind letter reached me just as 
I was in the hurry of getting away from England, and I have 
been carrying it about in my pocket ever since. 

Hooker and I have been having a charming time of it 
among the volcanoes of the Auvergne, and we are now on our 
way to those of the Velay and Vivarrais. The weather has been 
almost perfect Perhaps a few degrees of temperature could 
have been spared now and then, especially at Clermont, of which 
somebody once said that having stayed there the climate of hell 
would have no terrors for him. 

It has been warm in the Mont Dore country and in the 
Cantal, as it is here, but we are very high up, and there is a 
charming freshness and purity about die air. 

I do not expect to be back before the end of September, and 
my lectures begin somewhere in the second week of October. 
After they commence I shall not be able to leave London even 
for a day, but I shall be very glad to come to the inaugura- 
tion of your new buildings if the ceremony falls within my 
possible time. And you know I am always glad to be your 

I am thriving wonderfully. Indeed all that plagues me now 
is my conscience, for idling about when I feel full of vigour. 
But I promised to be obedient, and I am behaving better than 
Auld Clootie did when he fell sick. 

I hope you are routing out the gout. This would be the 
place for you — any quantity of mineral waters. 

Pray remember me very kindly to Mrs. Roscoe, and believe 
me, ever yours very faithfully, t. H. Huxley. 

Hotel de France, Baden-Baden, 
July 30, 1873. 
My dear Tyndall — We find ourselves here after a very 
successful cruise in the Auvergne and Ardeche, successful at 
least so far as beauty and geological interest go. The heat was 
killing, and obliged Us to give up all notion of going to Ursines, 
as we had at first intended to do. So we turned our faces north 
and made for Grenoble, hoping for a breath of cool air from the 
mountains of Dauphiny. But Grenoble was hotter even than 


Clermont (which, by the way, quite deserves its reputation as 
a competitor with hell), a neighbour's drains were adrift close 
to the hotel, and we got poisoned before we could escape. 
Luckily we got off with nothing worse than a day or two's diar- 
rhoea. After this the best thing seemed to be to rush northward 
to Gemsbach, which had been described to me as a sort of 
earthly paradise. We reached the place last Saturday night, 
and found ourselves in a big rambling hotel, crammed full of 
people, and planted in the bottom of a narrow valley, all hot 
and steaming. A large pigstye " convenient " to the house 
mingled its vapours with those of the seventy or eighty people 
who eat and drank without any other earthly occupation that 
we could discern during the three days we were bound, by stress 
of letters and dirty linen, to stop. On Monday we made an 
excursion over here, prospecting, and the air was so fresh and 
good, and things in general looked so promising that I made up 
my mind to put up in Baden-Baden until the wife joins me. She 
writes me that you talk of leaving England on Friday, and I 
may remark that Baden is on the high road to Switzerland. 
Verbum sap, 

I am wonderfully better, and really feel ashamed of loafing 
about when I might very well be at work. But I have promised 
to make holiday, and make holiday I will. 

No proof of your answer to Forbes* biographer reached me 
before I left, so I suppose you had not received one in time. I 
am dying to see it out. 

Hooker is down below, but I take upon myself to send his 
love. He is in great force now that he has got rid of his 
Grenoble mulligrubs. — Ever yours, _. _. 

After parting company with Hooker, he paid a flying 
visit to Professor Bonnet at Geneva ; then he was joined by 
his wife and son for the last three weeks of the holiday, 
which were spent at Baden and in the Bernese Oberland. 
Before this, he writes home : — 

I feel quite a different man from what I was two months ago, 
and you will say that you have a much more creditable husband 
than the broken-down old fellow who has been a heart-ache to 
you so long, when you see me. The sooner you can get away 
the better. \i the rest only does you as much good as it does 
me, I shall be very happy. 


AxENSTEiN, Luzerne, Aug. 24, 1873. 

My dear Tyndall — The copies of your booklet* intended 
for Hooker and me reached me just as I left Baden last Tuesday. 
Hooker had left me for home a fortnight before, and I hardly 
know whether to send his to Kew or keep them for him till I 
return. I have read mine twice, and I think that nothing coidd 
be better than the tone you have adopted. I did not suspect 
that you had such a shot in your locker as the answer to Forbes » 
about the direction of the " crevasses " referred to by Rendu. 
It is a deadly thrust ; and I shall be curious to see what sort of 
parry the other side will attempt. For of course they will 
attempt something. Scotland is, I believe, the only country in 
the world in which you can bring an action for " putting to 
silence " an adversary who will go on with an obviously hope- 
less suit. The lawgivers knew the genius of the people; and 
it is to be regretted that they could not establish a process of 
the same sort in scientific matters. 

I wrote to you a month ago to tell you how we had been 
getting on in France. Hooker and I were very jolly, notwith- 
standing the heat, and I think that the Vivarrais is the most 
instructive country in the world for seeing what water can do 
in cutting down the hardest rocks. Scrope*s book is very good 
on the whole, though the pictures are a little overdone. 

My wife and Leonard met me at Cologne on the nth. Then 
we went on to Baden and rested till last Tuesday, when we 
journeyed to Luzerne and, getting out of that hot and un- 
savoury hole as fast as we could, came here last Thursday. 

We find ourselves very well off. The hotel is perched up 180 
feet abovfe the lake, with a beautiful view of Pilatus on the west 
and of the Umer See on the south. On the north we have the 
Schwyz valley, so that we are not shut in, and the air is very 
good and fresh. There are plenty of long walks to be had 
without much fatigue, which suits the wife. Leonard promises 
to have very good legs of his own with plenty of staying power. 
I have given him one or two sharp walks, and I find he* has 
plenty of vigour and endurance. But he is not thirteen yet and 
I do not mean to let him do overmuch, though we are bent on a 
visit to a glacier. I began to tell him something about the 
glaciers the other day, but I was promptly shut up with, " Oh, 
yes! I know all about that. It's in Dr. Tyndall's book" — 
which said book he seems to me to have got by heart. He is 

♦ ** Principal Forbes and his Biographers.** 


the sweetest little fellow imaginable ; and either he has developed 
immensely in the course of the last year, or I have never been 
so much thrown together with him alone, and have not had the 
opportunity of making him out. 

You are a fatherly old bachelor, and will not think me a 
particularly great donkey for prattling on in this way about my 
swan, who probably to unprejudiced eyes has a power of goose 
about him. 

I suppose you know that in company with yourself and 
Hooker, the paternal gander (T. H. H.) has been honoured by 
the King of Sweden and made into a Polar Goose by the order 
of the North Star. Hooker has explained to the Swedish Am- 
bassador that English officials are prohibited by order in Council 
from accepting foreign orders, and I believe keeps the cross 
and ribbon on these conditions. If it were an ordinary decora- 
tion I should decline with thanks, but I am told it is a purely 
scientific and literary affair like the Prussian " pour le merite " ; 
so when I get back I shall follow Hooker's line. 

I met Laugel on board the Luzerne steamboat the other day, 
and he told me that you were at the Belalp — gallivanting as 
usual, and likely to remain there for some time. So I send this 
on the chance of finding you. With best love from us all, ever 
yours, T. H. Huxley. 

I am as well as I ever was in my life — regularly set up— 
in token whereof I have shaved off my beard. 

In another letter to his wife, dated August 8, from Baden, 
there is a very interesting passage about himself and his 
aims. He has just been speaking about his son's doings 
at school : — 

I have been having a great deal of talk with myself about 
my future career too, and I have often thought over what you 
say in the letter you wrote to the Puy. I don't quite under- 
stand what meant about the disputed reputation, unless 

it is a reputation for getting into disputes. But to say truth I 
am not greatly concerned about any reputation except that of 
being entirely honest and straightforward, and that reputation 
I think and hope I have. 

For the rest ... the part I have to play is not to found a 
new school of thought or to reconcile the antagonisms of the 
old schools. We are in the midst of a gigantic movement 
greater than that which preceded and produced the Reformation, 



and really only the continuation of that movement. But there 
is nothing new in the ideas which lie at the bottom of the 
movement, nor is any reconcilement possible between free 
thought and traditional authority. One or other will have to 
succumb after a struggle of unknown duration, which will have 
as side issues vast political and social troubles. I have no more 
doubt that free thought will win in the long run than I have 
that I sit here writing to you, or that this free thought will 
organise itself into a coherent system, embracing human life 
and the world as one harmonious whole. But this organisation 
will be the work of generations of men, and those who further 
it most will be those who teach men to rest in no lie, and to 
rest in no verbal delusions. I may be able to help a little in 
this direction — perhaps I may have helped already. For the 
present, however, I am disposed to draw myself back entirely 
into my own branch of physical science. There is enough and 
to spare for me to do in that line, and, for years to come, I do 
not mean to be tempted out of it. 

Strangely enough, this was the one thing he was des- 
tined not to do. Official work multiplied about him. From 
1870 to 1884 only two years passed without his serving on 
one or two Royal Commissions. He was Secretary of the 
Royal Society from 1871 to 1880, and President from 1883 
to his retirement, owing to ill-health, in 1885. He became 
Dean as well as Professor of Biology in the College of 
Science, and Inspector of Fisheries. Though he still man- 
aged to find some time for anatomical investigations, and 
would steal a precious hour or half hour by driving back 
from the Home Office to his laboratory at South Kensing- 
ton before returning home to St. John's Wood, the amount 
of such work as he was able to publish could not be very 

His most important contributions during this decennium 
(writes Sir M. Foster) were in part continuations of his former 
labours, such as the paper and subsequent full memoir on 
Stagonolepis, which appeared in 1875 and 1877, and papers on 
the Skull. The facts that he called a communication to the 
Royal Society, in 1875,* o" Amphioxus, a preliminary note, 
and that a paper read to the Zoological Society in 1876, on 

♦ Written 1874. 


Ceratodus Forsteri, was marked No. i of the series of Con- 
tributions to Morphology, showed that he still had before him 
the prospect of much anatomical work, to be accomplished when 
opportunity offered ; but, alas I the opportunity which came was 
small, the preliminary note had no full successor, and No. i 
was only followed, and that after an interval of seven years, 
by a brief No. 2. A paper "On the Characters of the Pelvis," 
in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, in 1879, *s full of sug- 
gestive thought, but its concluding passages seem to suggest 
that others, and not he himself, were to carry out the ideas. 
Most of the papers of this decennium deal with vertebrate mor- 
phology, and are more or less connected with his former re- 
searches, but in one respect, at least, he broke quite fresh 
ground. He had chosen the crayfish as one of the lessons for 
the class in general biology spoken of above, and was thus 
drawn into an interesting study of crayfishes, by which he was 
led to a novel and important analysis of the gill plumes as evi- 
dence of affinity and separation. He embodied the main results 
of his studies in a paper to the Zoological Society, and treated 
the whole subject in a more popular style in a book on the 
Crayfish. In a somewhat similar way, having taken the dog as 
an object lesson in mammalian anatomy for his students, he was 
led to a closer study of that common animal, resulting in papers 
on that subject to* the Zoological Society in 1880, and in two 
lectures at the Royal Institution in 1880. He had intended so 
to develop this study of the dog as to make it tell the tale of 
mammalian morphologjy; but this purpose, too, remained unac- 

Moreover, though he sent one paper (on Hyperodapedon 
Gordoni) to the Geological Society as late as 1887, yet the 
complete breakdown of his health in 1885, which released 
him from nearly all his official duties, at the same time 
dulled his ardour for anatomical pursuits. Stooping over 
his work became an impossibility. 

Though he carried about him, as does every man of like 
calibre and experience, a heavy load of fragments of inquiry 
begun but never finished, and as heavy a load of ideas for prom- 
ising investigations never so much as even touched, though his 
love of science and belief in it might never have wavered, though 
he never doubted the value of the results which further research 
would surely bring him, there was something working within 



him which made his hand, when turned to anatomical science, 
so heavy that he could not lift it. Not even that which was so 
strong within him, the duty of fulfilling a promise, could bring 
him to the work. In his room at South Kensington, where for 
a quarter of a century he had laboured with such brilliant effect, 
there lay on his working table for months, indeed for years, 
partly dissected specimens of the rare and little studied marine 
animal, Spirula, of which he had promised to contribute an 
account to the Reports of the " Challenger " Expedition, and 
hard by lay the already engraven plates; there was still wanted 
nothing more than some further investigation and the working 
out of the results. But it seemed as if some hidden hands were 
always being stretched out to keep him from the task; and 
eventually another labourer had to complete it. (Ibid.) 

The remaining letters of this year include several to Dr. 
Dohm, which show the continued interest my father took in 
the great project of the Biological Station at Naples, which 
was carried through in spite of many difficulties. He had 
various books and proceedings of learned societies sent out 
at Dr. Dohm's request (I omit the details) and proposed a 
scheme for raising funds towards completing the building 
when the contractor failed. The scheme^ however, was not 
put into execution. 

4 Marlborough Place, Ffd. 24, 1873. 

My dear Dohrn — I was very glad to receive the fine sealed 
letter, and to get some news of you — though to be sure there is 
not much of you in the letter, but all is " Station, Station." 

I congratulate you heartily on your success with your under- 
taking, and I only wish I could see England represented among 
the applicants for tables. But you see England is so poor, and 
the present price of coals obliges her to economise. 

I envy you your visit from " Pater Anchises " Baer, and 
rejoice to hear that the grand old man is well and strong enough 
to entertain such a project. I wish I could see my way to doing 
the like. I have had a long bout of illness — ever since August 
— ^but I am now very much better, indeed, I hope I may say quite 
well. The weariness of all this has been complicated by the 
trouble of getting into a new house, and in addition a law-suit 
brought by a knavish neighbour, in the hope of extracting money 
out of me. 

I am happy to say, however, that he has just been thoroughly 
and effectually defeated. It has been a new experience for me, 


and I hope it may be my last as well as my first acquaintance 
with English law, which is a luxury of the most expensive 

If Dr. KJeinenberg is with you, please to tell him, with my 
compliments and thanks for the copy of his Memoir, that I went 
over his Hydra paper pretty carefully in the summer, and satis- 
fied myself as to the correctness of his statements about the 
structure of the ectoderm and about the longitudinal fibres. 
About the Endoderm I am not so clear, and I often found indi- 
cations of delicate circular fibres in close apposition with the 
longitudinal ones. However, I had not time to work all this 
out, and perhaps might as well say nothing about it. 

Pray make my very kind remembrances to Mr. Grant. I 
trust that his dramas may have a brilliant reception. 

The Happy Family flourishes. But we shall look to your 
coming to see us. The house is big enough now to give you a 
bedroom, and you know you will have no lack of a welcome. 

I have said nothing about my wife (who has been in a state 
not only of superhuman, but of superfeminine, activity for the 
last three months) meaning to leave her the last page to speak 
for herself. 

With best compliments to the " ladies downstairs," ever 
yours very faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

4 Marlborough Place, Oct. 17. 1873. 

My dear Dohrn — ^Your letter reached me nearly a week 
ago, and I have been turning over its contents in my mind as 
well as I could, but have been able to come to no clear conclu- 
sion until now. I have been incessantly occupied with other 

I will do for you, and gladly, anything I would do for my- 
self, but I could not apply on my own behalf to any of those rich 
countrymen of mine, unless they were personally well known to 
me, and I had the opportunity of feeling my way with them. 
But if you are disposed to apply to any of the people you men- 
tion, I shall be only too glad to back your application with all the 
force I am master of. You may make use of my name to any 
extent as guarantor of the scientific value and importance of 
your undertaking and refer anyone to whom you may apply to 
me. It may be, in fact, that this is all you want, but as you 
have taken to the caprice of writing in my tongue instead of in 
that vernacular, idiomatic and characteristically Dohrnian Ger- 
man, in which I delight, I am not so sure about your meaning. 


There is a rub for you. If you write to me in English again I 
will send the letter back without paying the postage. 

In any case let me have a precise statement of your financia] 
position. I may have a chance of talking to some Croesus, and 
the first question he is sure to ask me is — How am I to know 
that this is a stable affair, and that I am not throwing my money 
into the sea? . . . 

(Referring to an unpleasant step it seemed necessary to 
take) . . . you must make up your mind to act decidedly and 
take the consequences. No good is ever done in this world 
by hesitation. . . . 

I hope you are physically better. Look sharply after your 
diet, take exercise and defy the blue-devils, and you will weather 
the storm. — Ever yours very faithfully, T. H. Huxley. 

Tyndall, who had not attended the 1873 meeting of the 
British Association, had heard that some local opposition 
had been offered to his election as President for the Belfast 
meeting in 1874, and had written : — 

I wish to heaven you had not persuaded me to accept that 
Belfast duty. They do not want me. . . . But Spottiswoode 
assures me that no individual offered the slightest support to 
the two unscientific persons who showed opposition. 

The following was written in reply : — 

4 Marlborough Place, Sept, 25, 1873. 

My dear Tyndall — I am sure you are mistaken about the 

Belfast people. That blundering idiot of wanted to make 

himself important and get up a sort of " Home Rule " agitation 
in the Association, but nobody backed him and he collapsed. I 
am at your disposition for whatever you want me to do, as you 
know, and I am sure Hooker is of the same mind. We shall not 
be ashamed when we meet our enemies in the gate. 

The grace of God cannot entirely have deserted you since 
you are aware of the temperature of that ferocious epistle. 
Reeks,* whom I saw yesterday, was luxuriating in it, and said 
(confound his impudence) that it was quite my style. I forgot 
to tell him, by the bye, that I had resigned in your favour ever 
since the famous letter to Carpenter. Well, so long as you are 
better after it there is no great harm done. 

* The late Trenham Reeks, Registrar of the School of Mines, and 
Curator of the Museum of Practical Geology. 


Somebody has sent me the two numbers of Scribner with 
Blauvelt*s articles on ** Modern Skepticism." They seem to be 
very well done, and he has a better appreciation of the toughness 
of the job before him than any of the writers of his school with 
whom I have met. But it is rather, cool of you to talk of his 
pitching into Spencer when you are chief target yourself. I 
come in only par parenthhe, and I am glad to see that people 
are beginning to understand my real position, and to separate 
me from such raging infidels as you and Spencer. — Ever thine, 

T. H. Huxley. 

He was unable to attend the opening of Owens College 
this autumn, and having received but a scanty account of 
the proceedings, wrote as follows: — 

4 Marlborough Place, London, N.W., 
Oct, 16, 1873. 

My dear Roscoe — I consider myself badly used. Nobody 
has sent me a Manchester paper with the proceedings of the 
day of inauguration when, I hear, great speeches were made. 

I did get two papers containing your opening lecture, and the 
" Fragment of a Morality," for which I am duly grateful, but 
two copies of one day's proceedings are not the same thing as 
one copy of two days' proceedings, and I consider it is very 
disrespectful to a Governor (large G) not to let him know what 
went on. 

By all accounts which have reached me it was a great suc- 
cess, and I congratulate you heartily. I only wish that I could 
have been there to see. — Ever yours very faitfifuUy, 

T. H. Huxley. 

The autumn brought a slow improvement in health — 

I am travelling (he writes) between the two stations of 
dyspepsia and health thus (illustrated by a zigzag with " mean 
line ascending"). 

The sympathy of the convalescent appears in various 
letters to friends who were ill. Thus, in reply to Mr. Hyde 
Clarke, the philologist and, like himself, a member of the 
Ethnological Society, he writes : — 

(Nov. 18, 1873) — I am glad to learn two things from your 
note — ^first, that you are getting better; second, that there is 

434 LI^E OF PROFESSOR HUXLEY chap, xxvii 

hope of some good coming out of that Ashantee row, if only 
in the shape of rare vocables. 

My attention is quite turned away from Anthropological 
matters at present, but I will bear your question in mind if 
opportunity offers. 

A letter to Professor Rolleston at Oxford gives a lively 
account of his own ailments, which could only have been 
written by one now recovering from them, while the illness 
of another friend raised a delicate point of honour, which he 
laid before the judgment of Mr. Darwin, more especially as 
the latter had been primarily concerned in the case. 

4 Marlborough Place, Oct, i6, 1873. 

My dear Rolleston — A note which came from Mrs. Rolles- 
ton to my wife the other day, kindly answering some inquiries 
of ours about the Oxford Middle Class Examination, gave us 
but a poor account of your health. 

This kind of thing wont do, you know. Here is ill, 

and I doing all I can to persuade him to go away and take care 
of himself, and now comes ill news of you. 

Is it dyspeps again ? If so follow in my steps. I mean to go 
about the country, with somebody who can lecture, as the 
"horrid example" — cured. Nothing but gross and disgusting 
intemperance, Sir, was the cause of all my evil. And now that 
I have been a teetotaller for nine months, and have cut down 
my food supply to about half of what I used to eat, the enemy 
is beaten. 

I have carried my own permissive bill, and no canteen (ex- 
cept for my friends who still sit in darkness) is allowed on the 
premises. And as this is the third letter I have written before 
breakfast (a thing I never could achieve in the days when I 
wallowed in the stye of Epicurus), you perceive that I am as 
vigorous as ever I was in my life. 

Let me have news of you, and believe me — Ever yours very 
faithfully, T. H. H. 

Athen;€um Club, Nov, 3, 1873. 
My dear Darwin — You will have heard (in fact I think I 
mentioned the matter when I paid you my pleasant visit the 

other day) that is ill and obliged to go away for six months 

to a warm climate. It is a great grief to me, as he is a man 
for whom I have great esteem and affection, apart from his 


high scientific merits, and his symptoms are such as cause very 
grave anxjety. I shall be happily disappointed if that accursed 
consumption has not got hold of him. 

The college authorities have behaved as well as they possibly 
could to him, and I do not suppose that his enforced retirement 
for a while gives him the least pecuniary anxiety as his people 
are all well off, and he himself has an income apart from his 
college pay. Nevertheless, under such circumstances, a man 
with half a dozen children always wants all the money he can 
lay hands on; and whether he does or no, he ought not to be 
allowed to deprive himself of any, which leads me to the gist of 
my letter. His name was on your list as one of those hearty 
friends who came to my rescue last year, and it was the only 
name which made me a little uneasy, for I doubted whether it 
was right for a man with his responsibilities to make sacrifices 
of this sort. However, I stifled that feeling, not seeing what 
else I could do without wounding him. But now my conscience 
won't let me be, and I do not think that any consideration ought 
to deter me from getting his contribution back to him somehow 
or other. There is no one to whose judgment on a point of 
honour I would defer more readily than yours, and I am quite 
sure you will agree with me. 1 really am quite unhappy and 
ashamed to think of myself as vigorous and well at the expense 
of his denying himself any rich man's caprice he might take a 
fancy to. 

So, my dear, good friend, let me know what his contribution 
was, that I may get it back to him somehow or other, even if I 
go like Nicodemus privily and by night to his bankers. — Ever 
yours faithfully, T. H. H. 


My father's health continued fairly good in 1874, and 
while careful to avoid excessive strain he was able to under- 
take nearly as much as before his illness outside his regular 
work at South Kensington, the Royal Society, and on the 
Royal Commission. To this year belong three important 
essays, educational and philosophical. From February 25 
to March 3 he was at Aberdeen, staying first with Professor 
Bain, afterwards with Mr. Webster, in fulfilment of his first 
duty as Lord Rector * to deliver an address to the students. 
Taking as his subject " Universities, Actual and Ideal," he 
then proceeded to vindicate, historically and philosophically, 
the claims of natural science to take the place from which 
it had so long been ousted in the universal culture which 
a University professes to give. More especially he de- 
manded an improved system of education in the medical 
school, a point to which he gave practical effect in the 
Council of the University. 

In an ideal University, as I conceive it, a man should be able 
to obtain instruction in all forms of knowledge, and discipline in 
the use of all the methods by which knowledge is obtained. In 
such a University the force of living example should fire the 
student with a noble ambition to emulate the learning of learned 
men, and to follow in the footsteps of the explorers of new fields 
of knowledge. And the very air he breathes should be charged 

* It may be noted that between i860 and 1890 he and Professor 
Bain were the only Lord Rectors of Aberdeen University elected on 
non-political grounds. 


Portrait from a Photograph by Elliott and Fry; 
Steel Engraving in Nature, February 5, 1874. 

' ■•-«if,.^7'-.-.^.^ 


with that enthusiasm for truth, that fanaticism of veracity, 
which is a greater possession than much learning; a nobler gift 
than the power of increasing knowledge; by so much greater 
and nobler than these, as the moral nature of man is greater 
than the intellectual; for veracity is the heart of morality. 
(Coll. Ess. iii, 189, sqq.) 

As for the " so-called * conflict of studies,' " he ex- 
claims — 

One might as well inquire which of the terms of a Rule of 
Three sum one ought to know in order to get a trustworthy 
result. Practical life is such a sum, in which your duty multi- 
plied into your capacity and divided by your circumstances gives 
you the fourth term in the proportion, which is your deserts, 
with great accuracy. 

The knowledge on which medical practice should be 
based is " the sort of practical, familiar, finger-end know- 
ledge which a watchmaker has of a watch," the knowledge 
gained in the dissecting-room and laboratory, 

Until each of the greater truths of anatomy and physiology 
has become an organic part of your minds — until you would 
know them if you were roused and questioned in the middle of 
the night, as a man knows the geography of his native place and 
the daily life of his home. That is the sort of knowledge which, 
once obtained, is a life-long possession. Other occupations may 
fill your minds — it may grow dim and seem to be forgotten — 
but there it is, like the inscription on a battered and defaced 
coin, which comes out when you warm it. 

Hence the necessity to concentrate the attention on 
these cardinal truths, and to discard a number of extraneous 
subjects commonly supposed to be requisite whether for 
general cu